Reese attended the launch of AT&T’s new DirecTV Now streaming service in New York yesterday. Her new Hello Sunshine project will have its own channel on DirecTV next year with exclusive, female-driven content. Reese looked lovely in a little lace black dress at the event, and she spoke on-stage about her new venture. Find HQ photos from the event in our Gallery, and read more about the new streaming service within this post:
• AT&T Celebrates the Launch of DirecTV Now x35
AT&T Unveils DirecTV Now and Sets Channel Pacts With Taylor Swift, Reese Witherspoon
AT&T unveiled pricing plans for its DirecTV Now streaming service, set to launch Nov. 30, bringing the satcaster into the burgeoning business of offering internet-delivered TV packages for less than traditional cable or satellite services.
The telco also announced it has set separate streaming channel pacts with music superstar Taylor Swift and actress Reese Witherspoon, to offer exclusive content on DirecTV Now from each.
AT&T Entertainment Group CEO John Stankey billed DirecTV Now as “rules-free TV” for consumers who are cost-conscious and want the flexibility to stream channels across various devices.
The DirecTV Now pricing plans range from $35 a month for a collection of 60-plus channels, $50 a month for 80-plus channels, $60 a month for 100-plus channels, and top out at $70 a month for 120-plus channels. In addition, in a special limited-time offer, DirecTV Now subs can sign up for the 100-channel bundle for $35 per month.
And, in what is sure to be an introductory discounted price, AT&T said HBO and Cinemax can be added to DirecTV Now packages for $5 a month apiece. On a standalone basis, HBO Now costs $14.99 per month.
“We’re extending our entertainment portfolio for those who value premium content, but also want more TV freedom suited for their lifestyle, whether watching at home or on their mobile devices. This is TV your way,” Stankey said. The DirecTV Now details were released at a media event Monday at midtown Manhattan’s Venue57.
The DirecTV Now pricing is not as disruptive as analysts expected, with the exception of the $35 special introductory offer for the 100-channel bundle. Still, the plans are $20-$30 less per month that similar satellite packages, according to AT&T.
Part of AT&T’s strategy with DirecTV Now is to reinforce its wireless business: The OTT service, as expected, will be available to AT&T wireless customers to stream free of data charges. AT&T has defended such “zero-rating data” practices, after the FCC raised concerns that they could be anticompetitive.
“We want (consumers) to understand the benefits of AT&T wireless or an AT&T broadband solution with this product — that together, they work better,” Stankey said.”
DirecTV Now will square off in the market against other internet-delivered live TV packages, including Dish’s Sling TV and Sony’s PlayStation Vue. Hulu also is preparing to launch a live TV service in early 2017, while Google has plans to introduce a YouTube-branded skinny bundle next year.
There are some shortcomings with DirecTV Now, compared with full-blown traditional pay TV. First, it’s limited to two concurrent streams per account. It also doesn’t include DVR features, but Stankey said those are slated to be introduced in 2017 while the service at launch includes a 72-hour “catch up” feature providing on-demand access to recently aired programs for most networks.
The service also is launching without programming from CBS or Showtime, although Stankey downplayed the absence of CBS, saying it wasn’t a stumbling block in attracting the target demo for DirecTV Now. Local TV channels will be available for ABC, NBC and Fox in the broadcasters’ owned-and-operated markets, while DirecTV Now will provide primetime shows from them on VOD day-after-air in other areas.
The DirecTV Now entry-level 60-plus channel bundle ($35 monthly) includes ABC, NBC and Fox programming, plus ESPN, Fox News Channel, CNN, Nickelodeon, MSNBC, CNBC, Disney Channel, TNT, TBS, USA, HGTV, AMC, FX, A&E, Comedy Central, MTV, Discovery, Fox Sports 1, Univision and Syfy. The next tier up ($50 per month) adds channels including NBCSN, ESPNews, MLB Network, Cooking Channel, Fusion, IFC, The Weather Channel and GSN. The 100-plus tier (normally $60) includes all those plus channels including Golf, NBA TV, DIY Network, NatGeo Wild and Tennis Channel. The $70 top tier (with 120-plus channels) includes eight Starz Encore channels, as well as Boomerang, Univision Deportes and El Rey Network.
Aiming to differentiate the service from conventional pay TV, AT&T is playing up exclusive content available on DirecTV Now.
On DirecTV Now, the Taylor Swift Now channel will be devoted to the videos, concert performances, behind-the-scenes footage, and more from Swift’s archives. It will be included with all of the DirecTV Now services, and will be launching in the next few weeks, AT&T said. The telco in October signed a multiyear promotional pact with Swift, under which she’ll perform at DirecTV’s Super Bowl 51 event next February.
Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine venture is set to launch as a VOD channel on DirecTV Now by the middle of next year. It’s an expansion of the content deal that Witherspoon already had in place with Otter Media, the joint venture of Peter Chernin’s Chernin Group and AT&T. The channel’s content will focus on female-centric programs, including acquired movies and series, and will serve up an original series featuring Witherspoon.
“As we continue the journey of creating engaging entertainment for and about women at Hello Sunshine, it’s exciting to have a partner in AT&T who shares that commitment with us,” Witherspoon said.
DirecTV Now will also offer the subscription VOD service from Fullscreen Media, which AT&T owns with Chernin Group. Normally $5.99 per month, Fullscreen SVOD — which offers 1,500 hours of original and licensed programming — will be free for one year to AT&T wireless customers through DirecTV Now.
At launch, DirecTV Now will be available on Apple TV, iPhones, iPads, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Android mobile devices and tablets iPhone, Chromecast (Android at launch; iOS in 2017), Google Cast-enabled LeEco ecotvs and Vizio SmartCast Displays, and Internet Explorer, Chrome and Safari web browsers.
In 2017, AT&T said, it will add more devices to the DirecTV Now lineup including Roku players and TVs, Amazon Fire tablets, and connected TVs from Samsung and other manufacturers.
As previously reported by Variety, AT&T is offering customers a free Apple TV with three months prepaid of any DirecTV Now package, or an Amazon Fire TV Stick with one month prepaid. In addition, LeEco is offering DirecTV Now service with the purchase of smartphones and TVs (ranging from three to 12 months free), and Lenovo is offering one month free with the purchase of laptops with Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processors.
At launch, DirecTV Now will offer nearly 15,000 titles on VOD, with more content to be added in the coming weeks, according to AT&T.
Along with the subscription OTT packages, AT&T is launching an ad-supported service called FreeView, which will include a sampling of on-demand content from the AT&T-DirecTV Audience Network, Fullscreen and other Otter Media properties, and other channels on DirecTV Now.
With launch of online streaming service DirecTV Now, AT&T aims to keep up with TV watchers’ changing habits
AT&T revealed its new online video streaming service DirecTV Now Monday, which it hopes will appeal to millions of TV watchers who want to stream their favorite shows on-demand, on their smartphones and tablets – and without a cable bill.
The streaming service will be available starting Wednesday. It will offer four different packages that range in price from $35 a month for 60 channels to $70 a month for 120-plus channels.
But at launch, AT&T will offer more than 100 channels at a price of $35 a month. Customers who sign up early will be grandfathered into that price, though the same package will later cost $60 a month. AT&T didn’t say when the offer will end.
DirecTV Now is Dallas-based AT&T’s answer to a competitive entertainment landscape that’s been disrupted by new players, such as Netflix and Hulu, and tech companies like Apple that have expressed interest in making original TV content or launching new products. Hulu plans to roll out a similar live TV product in 2017. Hours before AT&T’s DirecTV Now event, Dish’s Sling TV announced it would launch cloud DVR into beta in December.
But John Stankey, AT&T’s CEO of the entertainment group, said DirecTV Now will stand out because of its “robust live lineup, deep on-demand lineup” and low price. He said AT&T also has an advantage with its distribution channels. It will waive data charges for wireless customers when they use the streaming service.
Stankey said AT&T is betting that the subscription video service could be an entry point for about 20 million households that don’t have pay TV. That includes many twenty- or thirty-somethings, apartment dwellers, people who don’t pass a credit check and price-conscious customers dissatisfied with how much they pay for cable. If they sign up for DirecTV Now, he said, they may later sign up for other AT&T products.
He declined to say AT&T’s target for number of subscribers. He said AT&T will also measure its success by looking at churn rates and the number of AT&T products that customers use.
“The depth of our relationship with that customer over time becomes very important,” he said.
AT&T unveiled the streaming service at a launch event in Manhattan with blasting music, large TV screens and celebrity appearances. Company executives showed off DirecTV Now. Event staffers handed out glasses of champagne and tiny cartons of popcorn. And YouTube stars, TV actors and actress-turned-TV-producer Reese Witherspoon posed for photos on a blue carpet that matched AT&T’s globe logo.
When DirecTV Now launches, AT&T will offer a promotional price of $35 for 100-plus channels, though that package will later cost $60 a month. Customers can pay an additional $5 a month for HBO or Cinemax. And for customers who prepay, AT&T will give away free Apple TV and Amazon Fire Stick streaming devices.
AT&T will also offer a free seven-day preview of DirecTV Now and a free, ad-supported streaming service called FreeView with a sampling of on-demand content.
Stankey said AT&T will continue to negotiate with the networks to come to an agreement – and he said new original content produced by AT&T and its partners will be coming, too.
One of those original content producers is Hello Sunshine, a production company led by Reese Witherspoon. It will produce female-driven content, such as TV, films, short videos and podcasts.
AT&T officially launched DirecTV Now yesterday, offering several details on the streaming service but also leaving a few gaps. Starting November 30, DirecTV Now will offer four tiers: Live a Little with over 60 channels for $35 per month, Just Right with over 80 channels for $50 per month, Go Big with over 100 channels for $60 per month, and Gotta Have It with over 120 channels for $70 per month. However, the Go Big tier will be reduced to $35 at launch, and all who grab the intro price will be grandfathered in at that rate. AT&T did not give an end date for the intro pricing. AT&T will offer two add-on packs, with HBO and Cinemax for $5 each per month.
Actress Reese Witherspoon was on hand to announce that in 2017 DirecTV Now will include an on-demand channel with content from her production company Hello Sunshine. AT&T also announced it will carry exclusive behind-the-scenes video from musician Taylor Swift.
AT&T Exec on Getting Reese Witherspoon, Taylor Swift for DirecTV Now; Why CBS Is Missing
AT&T on Monday unveiled more details of its DirecTV Now streaming service, which launches Wednesday.
Networks from all major entertainment companies, except for CBS Corp., will be part of it.
Brad Bentley, executive vp, marketing, AT&T Entertainment Group, was among the AT&T executives who touted the service at the midtown Manhattan launch event.
He spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about how AT&T is transforming into more of an entertainment company, including via its planned $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner, why CBS Corp. hasn’t struck a deal to be part of DirecTV Now and why the streaming service is planning channels with content from Reese Witherspoon and Taylor Swift.
How important is it to have big names like Reese Witherspoon and Taylor Swift involved in DirecTV Now?
I want to communicate that we are involved beyond traditional pay TV. It’s a new model and the content will evolve beyond the traditional.
Partnering with Taylor was part of an opportunity to really go after the millennial audience, and she had all this great content. The Reese Witherspoon deal was part of what we have been doing with Otter Media, investing in up-and-coming content creators. These are bets that show it is about so much more than traditional content.