Starting Monday, the skinny bundle business will become a lot more interesting. That’s when AT&T’s DirectTv Now package is due to be fully explained and offered to the
public. From here, it sounds like a the most meaty skinny competitor out there.
Depends. DirecTV Now will offer 100 Internet-delivered channels for $35 a month and that includes
major broadcast networks with the exception--a rather big exception--of CBS. But as Variety points out,
price DirecTV Now is cheaper than traditional satellite-delivered DirecTV’s cheapest package, which offers 145 channels for $88 a month. “We think the potential day of reckoning for the
existing pay-TV ecosystem may finally have arrived,” Cowen & Co. analyst Doug Creutz told Variety’s Todd Spangler.
I keep on being a sucker for quotes like
that because I so dearly want it to be true. With no offense to Spanish language speakers or sports fanatics, I really don't have that much interest in those many, many Spanish-language and sports
channels offered on cable. (Though most/all of these packages have alternative versions that serve those folks.)
DirectTV Now joins the existing Dish TV-offered
Sling TV which already offers a slim OTT package of 28 or so networks for just $20 a
month, a better version for $40 and a fairly fully boat of channels for $60 a month--big enough to be edging toward cable-like overload. You can’t get CBS there either, or ABC. Nonetheless, it
does sound like a good deal, and you can sample it for a week for free.
I did and experienced a bunch of stutters and freezes, but I figured it can’t always be like
that. Maybe it can. I’ve been trying to get it again for real money this time via my Amazon Fire service, but I keep getting a come-back-later/we’re-having-trouble notification. This
doesn’t bode well. But about a million people buy Sling TV, so some people are getting through. Good luck.
Also already out there is Sony’s Playstation VUE, which
offers channels ranging from $29.99 to $64.99 a month. The top package, confusingly if you speak the English language, is called Ultra Slim, which in fact, delivers the most channels. It also works on
Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire
, in addition to Playstation 3 and 4.
We’re still waiting for Hulu’s OTT
service, which will start with at least 35 channels and likely more, and the convenience of Hulu itself, all in one place. YouTube is also planning its own package, sometime or another.
Those haven’t started yet--they will early next year--so it’s hard to say more about them.. But if you want the fullest array of cord-cutting alternatives to choose from,
waiting for some time after Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin do their bit on New Year’s Eve is advisable.
Or not. Unlike cable and satellite subscriptions which often come with onerous
penalties for unhooking, it’s no problem for OTT services. So, experiment away, because it’s also pretty likely not all of these alternatives will survive.