DirecTVIt appears that video content providers are learning to love – or at least embrace — OTT, as an announcement today about AT&T DirecTV OTT video offerings planned for later this year illustrates.

AT&T said it will make three new DirecTV streaming video options available beginning in the fourth quarter of 2016, including an ad-supported free offer, as well as wireless options that won’t require customers to use AT&T as their wireless carrier.

AT&T didn’t reveal pricing for the non-free OTT offerings or what DirecTV content would be included in the various services. But when AT&T CEO and President Randall Stephenson in December said the company had mobile OTT video offerings in the works, he noted that the company had mobile rights to content from ESPN, NFL Sunday Ticket and TNT.

DirecTV OTT Video Plans
When AT&T closed on its DirecTV acquisition last year, one of its first moves was to give its own wireless customers the ability to watch certain DirecTV content on their smartphones or tablets if they also subscribed to traditional DirecTV  service. The new offerings are considerably broader, as customers not only will be able to use any wireless carrier — the offerings also won’t be tied to traditional DirecTV subscriptions and won’t require a satellite dish, set-top box or annual contract.

In acquiring DirecTV, AT&T gained considerable clout with content providers because it combined both video subscriber bases. The new offerings would appear set to give the company further clout by opening up an even broader addressable base. It also seems to play well into AT&T’s plans to shift traditional video delivery toward satellite in order to free up a greater portion of its broadband pipes to support data service.  Potentially the new OTT offerings could – at least partially – compensate for the de-emphasis of U-verse video capabilities.

The specific offerings that AT&T plans to launch include:

  • DIRECTV Now- a range of on-demand and live programming from many networks plus premium add-on options. Customers will be able to use a wired or wireless broadband connection with “Internet-enabled devices” to access the services.
  • DIRECTV Mobile- will deliver “premium video and made-for-digital content” to smartphones on any wireless provider’s network. In its press release announcing the planned OTT services, AT&T used the word “affordable” to describe this service, suggesting it might carry a lower price tag than DIRECTV Now, which didn’t carry the “affordable” descriptor.
  • DIRECTV Preview is the free ad-supported offering, which will feature “some of the quality programming available on DIRECTV today.” The offering also will “showcase” content from AT&T’s AUDIENCE Network, as well as “many networks and other content sources” and “millennial-focused video from Otter Media.” Otter Media is a joint venture of AT&T and The Chernin Group.

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