Published on February 1st, 2018 | by Brad Gibson0
DirecTV Now hits 1.2 million customers; delays DVR rollout to spring
DirecTV Now has nearly 1.2 million subscribers to its Apple TV-ready streaming service but will delay the release of its cloud digital video recorder until the spring to work out the bugs that beta testers report have plagued its latest version of software.
AT&T, the parent company of DirecTV Now, announced during its fourth-quarter 2017 earnings conference call Wednesday that will add an entirely new interface to the service in addition to a third consecutive stream this spring when a new app and DVR service launches. This means subscribers to DirecTV Now will be able to watch on three different devices at once, from the current two.
The company did not give a specific date for the next-generation platform launch, which will be sometime after March 20th.
Before the end of 2018, AT&T plans to launch a “home-centric” version of DirecTV Now, with an in-home connected set-top device, the company said.
“It’s a very small, inexpensive streaming device plugged into your TV and then you connect it to any broadband service,” said AT&T Chairman, CEO, and President Randall Stephenson. “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. So, it can be DirecTV Now, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, or even YouTube. It also gives you a premium live video experience in your home with the flexibility and ease-of-use what you would expect out of an (over-the-top) service (like DirecTV Now).”
The company did not acknowledge during the conference call issues it has been having with its DVR service which has been in a beta testing phase with thousands of U.S. customers since last Summer. The issues have been primarily related to network buffering issues that have impacted everything from playing, rewinding, and pausing live or pre-recorded programming.
In discussing the DVR feature, Stephenson said, “I’ve been using this thing recently and I got to tell you, I think our customers are really going to like this. The experience is very good.”
AT&T has refused comment on the beta DVR issues as well as continued outages and buffering issues and has not responded to multiple requests for comment by BESTAppleTV.com.
AT&T released new subscriber figures for the service saying it gained 368,000 new customers during the fourth quarter of 2017.
Stephenson confirmed around 50 percent of DirecTV Now subscribers are cord nevers – people who never had any standard TV subscriptions to begin with – with the other 50 percent being cord cutters or cord shavers, known in the industry as people who have opted out of standard cable TV subscriptions.
Meanwhile, DirecTV’s traditional satellite service continued to lose subscribers, the company said. It lost a total of 147,000 customers in the fourth quarter of 2017, the third straight quarter of declines. AT&T’s U-verse TV service lost 60,000 customers in the same period.
Stephenson acknowledges that AT&T expected “traditional linear”, or satellite and cable services, to decline in popularity while Internet streaming services like DirecTV Now increased.
“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 commented. “So, as traditional linear declines, DirecTV Now we think can offset that…we’re very bullish on video.”
DirecTV Now launched in November of 2016 using the Apple TV app with an entry-level package price of $35 per month for over 60 channels.