By Malathi Nayak
NEW YORK (Reuters) – AT&T Inc, the largest U.S. TV provider, unveiled on Monday the pricing and launch date for DirecTV Now, which will stream television programming through the internet to win customers who shun traditional cable and satellite TV subscriptions.
DirecTV Now will debut on Wednesday at prices ranging from $35 a month for over 60 channels to $70 for over 120 channels, AT&T said. For a limited time, more than 100 channels will be available for $35, the company said.
“It’s a very disruptive offer,” Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics said, adding that the AT&T promotion could help it garner about 1 million subscribers within a year.
The service, which was first announced in March with few details, will be available on internet-connected devices including smartphones, laptops, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.
AT&T is counting on the mobile video market for new revenue as wireless companies are struggling to drive sales in an oversaturated cellular phone market.
AT&T acquired DirecTV for $48.5 billion last year, making it the largest U.S. pay-TV operator with 25.3 million video subscribers, in an effort to diversify into the media and entertainment business.
AT&T also plans to buy Time Warner Inc for $85.4 billion to gain control of premium content from networks such as HBO, as online video competition is expected to heat up.
“It is really important to understand that this is the foundation for how we are going to do things in the future,” John Stankey, chief executive officer of AT&T’s entertainment group, said at a media event in New York.
DirecTV Now will help AT&T target a new market segment, including consumers who cannot pass credit checks for pay-TV subscriptions and those who shun pricey pay-TV connections, Stankey said.
DirecTV Now will include content from networks such as Walt Disney Co and Twenty-First Century Fox. The company is actively working to include CBS Corp programming to its service, executives said on Monday.
AT&T also rolled out FreeView, an ad-supported video service that gives viewers a taste of some on-demand DirecTV Now content for free.
DirecTV Now users can add premium services such as HBO and Cinemax for $5 per month, AT&T said.
For $6 a month, viewers can also sign up for Fullscreen, a video service owned by Otter Media, a joint venture between AT&T and media company the Chernin Group. AT&T is giving its wireless subscribers free access to Fullscreen for a year, it said.
(Reporting by Malathi Nayak, Jessica Toonkel and Tim Baysinger in New York; Editing by Richard Chang and Lisa Shumaker)