Will DirecTV Now be AT&T's Primary Video Platform in 2021?

AT&T’s new online streaming video service, DirecTV Now, will become the company’s primary video platform in three to five years, some inside AT&T apparently now predict. The speed of that change--and its implications--show just how much change might be expected in the entertainment video business and the service provider business model.

By switching to over-the-top delivery, AT&T in principle could avoid truck rolls, marketing, in-home capital and other fulfillment cost. DirecTV Now, though primarily aimed mostly at attracting new subscribers among the ranks of consumers disenchanted with linear services, might also eventually appeal even to consumers of facilities-based services that require a physical connection (satellite dish installation or installation of cables and set-tops.

Eliminating a truck roll and customer premises equipment could eliminate several hundreds of dollars of cost whenever a new customer is signed up and activated.

DirecTV Now, set to be introduced by the end of 2016, appears aimed at about 20 million households that have no cable or satellite service, competing with services such as Sling by Dish.

One might argue that DirecTV Now is worth doing if the “unconnected” were the only target. But the benefits might also extend to other consumers who already buy either a fixed network or satellite-delivered linear service.

For AT&T there are trade-offs in other areas, particularly the need to ensure that its access bandwidth assets are plentiful enough to support the big upsurge in bandwidth consumption on mobile and fixed networks.
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