You’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of streaming services out there now. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, CBS All Access, Apple TV, DC Universe and coming soon, HBO Max and Peacock. It’s enough to make someone say, “Can’t they bundle these all together?” And then that person would realize that such a thing would just be cable TV again, a monster they turned to ala carte streaming to escape.
That hasn’t stopped someone from trying. This week, AT&T rolls out AT&T TV, a service that uses your wifi to deliver hundreds of cable channels, Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, 5,000 apps from the Google Store, 40,000 on-demand titles, and a cloud DVR with 500 hours of storage space in a great big bow. It’s way more than anyone can ever watch, and if the bloat feels familiar, so will the cost.
AT&T brags that you can get their TV service for $49.99. Just like cable, they’re referring to the lowest entry point, while at the same time touting the amount of content only their largest tier can deliver ($69.99). And remember cable TV prices that increased over time? Remember contracts? AT&T TV has both….$49.99 and $69.99 are just the introductory prices. If you sign up, you’re committing to two years and your bill could go as high as $135 by the end.
The trip back in time isn’t over yet! Remember FEES? Just signing up for AT&T TV takes a $19.99 activation fee out of your wallet. Cancelling your contract if you try to escape costs the same. “What’s it activating if this is a streaming service?” you ask. Well, AT&T TV requires a set top box, which makes no sense if it’s coming in over the internet. Want the same service in another room? That’ll be another $10 for another box.
The only people I can see falling for this are people who have never cut the cord before and are not aware of commitment-free streaming channels, or even commitment-free cable services like YouTube TV. The coming ad campaign will also remind you of cable, especially if you’re in a region dominated by Comcast.
Yep, it’s the old “wow, I can speak into my remote!” gimcrack that Comcast has run into the ground. It’s not so special anymore now that the tech is widespread, but as this entire venture proves, AT&T is a little behind the times.
It doesn’t even do the one innovation it promised. I only mentioned Netflix, Disney+ and HBO Max because that’s it. There is no option for Amazon Prime, Hulu, or any of the others. You’ll have to pay extra to get them separately, but if you’ve shelled out this much by now, you clearly have no problem throwing away money.