DirecTV Now Hits The Roku

AT&T’s live TV service, DirecTV Now, has launched on another major platform, with its added support for Roku. However, the service itself has already lost momentum in terms of new subscribers – according to a recent Bloomberg report, DirecTV Now peaked in January with about 328,000 subscribers, but then lost 3,000 customers in February and saw flat growth in March.

Roku, however, is one of the last, significant platforms that DirecTV Now needed to support in order to be competitive with rivals. At launch, the service had been available on the web, iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, and other select smart TVs.

With the launch on Roku, a free one-month trial of the service will be also available, which could help boost sign-ups. After the month is up, customers will be automatically enrolled in DirecTV Now’s base plan ($35 per month), unless they cancel. This tier, dubbed the “Live a Little” plan, offers over 60 channels. From there, you can bump up to 80+ channels for $50/mo, 100+ channels for $60/mo, or 120+ channels for $70/mo.

However, the Roku launch comes at a time when DirecTV Now’s service has seen slowed growth and a pull back on marketing from AT&T while it tries to work out the service’s issues. Early on, customers experienced a number of glitches – including freezing and buffering – leading them to fill up AT&T’s online forums with complaints and contact the company for refunds. Some even filed complaints with the FCC, when they found they couldn’t get their requested refunds even though the service wasn’t working as expected.

Despite these issues, the service initially saw promising adoption – reaching 200,000 subscribers in its first month of operations.

Some consumers may have signed up because of AT&T’s launch offer which included over 100 channels for only $35 per month. But that deal has since expired – it’s now $60 to get that many channels today. In addition, DirecTV Now had at first sweetened the deal by giving away either an Amazon Fire TV Stick or Apple TV, with new subscriptions. That deal, too, is no longer available.

Since its debut, DirecTV Now has also been challenged by other newcomers to the live TV space. Though initially competing with existing services like Dish’s Sling TV and Sony’s Playstation Vue, today it has to take on other arrivals as well, like YouTube TV and Hulu’s new live TV service.

It’s unclear how large the market for live streaming TV is today – after all, many consumers who are cutting the cord are doing so because there’s enough to watch via the mainstream, on-demand services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. To what extent people want to replicate the cable tv experience in a browser or app is not yet known, as it’s still early days in this market.

Roku says DirecTV Now will be available on select devices, including the Roku TV 4K models, the Roku Ultra, Roku Premiere+, Roku Premiere, Roku Express, Roku Express+, Roku Streaming Stick (model 3600R), Roku 4, Roku 3 and Roku 2 (model 4210).

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Scott Hart

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