AT&T is busy reshuffling all of its TV services. Over the next year, AT&T has two new major streaming projects launching with HBO Max launching in the spring of 2020 and DIRECTV’s new AT&T TV live streaming service launching may be as soon as August.
HBO Max will reportedly be a lot like Hulu with on-demand content. AT&T TV will be a streaming version of DIRECTV and use the same interface as DIRECTV NOW.
So, where does this leave DIRECTV NOW? According to AT&T’s CEO John Stankey, DIRECTV NOW will “merge” into HBO Max to offer a “combined product with a common search and user interface.”
There has been a lot of confusion over the future of DIRECTV NOW and what was said during an interview with AT&T’s CEO about the future of the service. So, let’s take a look at exactly what CNBC said AT&T’s CEO John Stankey said during their interview:
“In addition, AT&T eventually plans to merge its DIRECTV NOW service with its WarnerMedia streaming service, giving customers a more robust TV offering than anything on the market, the people said. A combined product with a common search and user interface — which, like the standalone streaming service, could also come bundled at a discount with an AT&T wireless subscription — would give customers access to live pay-TV streaming channels and Warner’s library and originals, all in the same ecosystem.”
That was said on June 7, 2019, and the story was updated a few hours later. AT&T has never publicly tried to correct this and in all of our posts on what CNBC reported, AT&T has never asked Cord Cutters News for any type of correction. (AT&T PR and Cord Cutters News regularly communicate.) Because this post has now been up for over a month with no corrections and because it came from CNBC with a good history of accurately quoting people, we tend to trust that is what he said.
There are three parts of this subject that seem to clearly point to DIRECTV NOW merging into HBO Max. First, John Stankey told CNBC that “AT&T eventually plans to merge its DIRECTV NOW service with its WarnerMedia streaming service.” To help dispel any possible misunderstanding, he went on to say the new service that we now know will be called HBO Max will be a “combined product with a common search and user interface.” Lastly, he ended it by saying that this service “would give customers access to live pay-TV streaming channels and Warner’s library and originals, all in the same ecosystem.”
When you put all of that together it seems clear that AT&T does plan to “eventually” merge DIRECTV NOW into HBO Max.
What does a merged DIRECTV NOW & HBO Max look like?
From everything we have learned, it sounds like HBO Max will look like Hulu. According to reports, AT&T plans to offer HBO Max in at least two tiers. First, an on-demand only option. Second, like with Hulu, an option to add live TV to your HBO Max service.
What does this mean for current DIRECTV NOW subscribers?
For now, if you are a DIRECTV NOW customer I would not worry about the future of DIRECTV NOW. HBO Max won’t launch until the spring of 2020. AT&T also said that they plan to “eventually” merge the two services.
For now, if you are happy with DIRECTV NOW continue to use DIRECTV NOW. At the earliest, this merger won’t happen until the spring of 2020.
What will happen to DIRECTV NOW after the merger?
This is the open question. AT&T has been very honest that DIRECTV NOW is no longer its main focus. HBO Max and the new AT&T TV service (that will use DIRECTV NOW’s user interface and back end) are now the main focus for AT&T.
“We have emphasized [DIRECTV NOW] slightly less than we did when it first launched because we are focused more on other elements of the portfolio,” said AT&T’s Mobility and Entertainment President David Christophe at the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Telecom and Media Conference. Earlier in the talk, Christophe said that AT&T has a portfolio of TV services including DIRECTV and the new WarnerMedia service. With this statement, it seems clear that DIRECTV and the new WarnerMedia service are a bigger focus for AT&T than DIRECTV NOW.
Having three live TV streaming services seems to be a bit much. When AT&T TV launches later this year AT&T will have Watch TV, AT&T TV, and DIRECTV NOW. Merging DIRECTV NOW into HBO Max from a business standpoint seems to make a lot of sense as you will have AT&T TV and DIRECTV NOW fighting head to head with each other for the same customers.
AT&T has not commented on what they plan to do with current DIRECTV NOW customers when the merger happens. So, I wouldn’t worry about the what-ifs right now. If you enjoy the service just keep using it.
We hope this post helps clear up any confusion of what AT&T has said in recent months.
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