As part of their announcement of fourth quarter results, AT&T revealed some information about their DirecTV Now streaming TV platform. When AT&T purchased DirecTV, part of their strategy was to be able to bundle content and sell it backed by the depth of their wireless and Internet service offerings. That has been thwarted somewhat by shortcomings with the platform, which should be addressed by a major upgrade to be released this spring.
According to CEO Randall Stephenson, the upgrade will be a major one for DirecTV Now and brings with it one of the most requested features – a cloud-based DVR function so users can record shows to watch at a later time. The lack of a DVR capability has been a major shortfall for DirecTV Now, especially with major competitors offering this feature.
Stephenson also announced DirecTV Now would be adding a third stream option. Currently DirecTV Now limits concurrent users to two, so adding a third stream will help make DirecTV Now more of a viable option for consumers with several potential users, like families. Interface upgrades are also planned for the DirecTV Now package.
Although DirecTV Now has been hampered by the lack of DVR capability, AT&T did manage to add 368,000 new subscribers to reach 1.2 million total. In contrast, it appears AT&T lost 207,000 other video subscribers, which means DirecTV Now has quickly become a key part of the company’s portfolio when it comes to video.
Sling TV is still generally regarded as the leader in the platforms offering live TV streaming with DirecTV Now and PlayStation Vue rounding out the top three. Both Hulu and YouTube TV are making a big push to get into the field, so the market is getting crowded.
No specific “go live” date was provided, but AT&T has been beta testing the new version since last fall.