AT&T’s long-rumored DirecTV service is going to launch next month, the company has revealed. AT&T chief Randall Stephenson announced the news as part of a discussion surrounding AT&T’s $80 billion takeover of Time Warner. With the promise to provide a traditional cable viewing experience, but without needing a cable box and for a “radically lower” price, this could be a big move.
Details on the service are still unclear, but rumors suggest that the price will be somewhere around $40-50 for a fairly complete package of channels. Disney channels like ESPN and ABC will be available, and we also know that HBO and Cinemax will be available. Since AT&T acquired Time Warner this weekend, you can also expect Time Warner’s full lineup of channels (including HBO) to be available.
With AT&T launching this brand-new internet streaming service as a genuine cable competitor, this could be a real game-changer for the industry. Long term, there’s plenty to be worried about with an AT&T/Time Warner merger. AT&T will own everything related to your TV consumption, all the way from producing the content to delivering it to your phone or TV. Monopoly power has not traditionally gone well for the consumer when it comes to telecoms, so if AT&T starts using its power to price-gouge consumers, it could be bad.
But in the short run, it seems like AT&T is using its newfound power to break the established system of cable TV bundles, and is actually giving people something they want for a change. Provided that the price is low enough, and DirecTV doesn’t have any major gaps in channels (sports and big drama like HBO have traditionally been the sticking points), this could be one of the last blows that kills off the cable monopoly.