AT&T is planning to come out with an upgraded version of DirecTV Now this spring and launch a next-generation streaming device before the end of the year, AT&T President and CEO Randall Stephenson told investors Wednesday on a fourth quarter earnings call.
This comes as AT&T reported adding 368,000 DirecTV Now subscribers in Q4, offsetting a combined decline of 207,000 for its DirecTV satellite TV and U-verse TV offerings. More on that here.
DirecTV Now upgrades will include a third concurrent stream per account, compared to the two customers are allowed now, as well as enhancements to the user interface.
Stephenson said the “home-centric” streaming device with “a very thin hardware client” will be able to be plugged into users’ TV and then connected to any broadband service.
“There will be a voice controlled user interface with an integrated search feature and will allow you to search across any streaming video service that you subscribe to,” Stephenson said, including Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and YouTube, among others. “It also gives you a premium live video experience in your home with the flexibility and ease-of-use that you would expect out of an OTT service.”
While he didn’t reveal further details about the product, documents filed with the FCC last fall showed that AT&T had a new Android TV-powered DirecTV streaming device in the works that supported 4K, voice search, and apps from the Google Play store.
“That [device] will actually drive cost structure of the traditional video product down so that you could preserve margins in the traditional linear video as you grow in the over-the-top applications and video services,” Stephenson told investors.
Although AT&T anticipates continued declines in traditional linear video, the company remains “very bullish on video,” Stephenson said.
“As it relates to video, we are standing up a video product that we are convinced will give us growth in the video platform for the next few years, and that’s our DirecTV Now,” he noted. “So, as traditional linear declines, DirecTV Now, we think can offset that and not only that, but our traditional linear video will be repurposed.”