AT&T TV launches nationwide in February 2020

AT&T is further nailing down the nationwide launch date for AT&T TV, its upcoming streaming TV service that’s currently being tested in multiple markets.

AT&T Communications CEO Jeff McElfresh, speaking today at Barclays Global TMT Conference, said that AT&T TV will officially launch in February 2020 and that it, along with HBO Max, will spearhead a “market reorientation” at AT&T.

“Our growth agenda is on fiber, in our entertainment group, and on AT&T TV,” said McElfresh. He said AT&T TV will feature customer acquisition costs of about half of what AT&T currently spends to bring on legacy satellite TV subscribers for DirecTV. He said the content lineup will be “every bit as good” as what AT&T currently offers through DirecTV and U-verse and that the user experience is “future leaning.”

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AT&T TV is currently being beta tested in about 15 U.S. markets, according to CFO John Stephens. It will require only a self-installed Android TV box for service instead of a satellite dish installed by a technician.

It’s a product that’s arriving just as video subscriber losses in AT&T’s traditional pay TV products have peaked, according to McElfresh.

AT&T lost approximately 1.16 million premium video subscribers (DirecTV and U-verse) and lost another 195,000 AT&T TV subscribers for a total of about 1.358 million during the quarter. The losses were dramatically higher than the 297,000 total net subscribers lost in the year ago quarter.

Despite those losses, AT&T is preparing another round of rate increases for DirecTV and U-verse. In January 2020, DirecTV video service packages will increase their monthly rates by between $1 (Basic Choice) and $8 (Premier), and U-verse TV packages will go up between $3 and $7 per month. AT&T is also instituting higher regional sports network fees and higher broadcast TV fees in some cases.