AT&T TV, not to be confused with any of AT&T's other TV offerings, aims to give customers one true destination for entertainment. Not only does it offer a wide channel selection, including local broadcast networks, but it's even got an on-demand library with thousands of titles
And while it offers nearly all the programming you could ask for, its old-school pricing system is confusing and complicated. It's also primarily based around a proprietary streaming box that AT&T provides.
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While lots of sports and a strong Cloud DVR cap could convince you to sign up, AT&T TV is stuck as a "coulda been" when it comes to the best streaming services. If only it wasn't built around annual contracts and filled with hidden fees.
Here's everything you need to know about AT&T TV:
AT&T TV: What is it and how does it work?
AT&T TV is the company's third live TV streaming service, an alternative to cable TV. It's called an "over-the-top" (OTT) service, because it's delivered via the internet, rather than from a traditional cable TV or satellite delivery.
After AT&T sends you its streaming box, you plug that into power and your TV, connect it to the internet and you're in.
Yes, that means you're relying on AT&T to send you hardware, which means this is a whole lot like cable.
AT&T TV price: The giant asterisk in the room
AT&T TV looks too good to be true, and that's because it is. For starters, its entry-level $50 per month price is only available for those signing annual 12-month agreements. Sling TV and the like push monthly contracts, moving away from the status quo.
Next, let's examine the fine print: "After 12 mos. or loss of eligibility, then prevailing rate applies (currently $93/mo. for ENTERTAINMENT Pkg; $110/mo. for CHOICE Pkg; $124/mo. for XTRA Pkg; $135/mo. for ULTIMATE Pkg; $86.99/mo. for OPTIMO MAS),"
That means after the first year you're paying nearly twice as much per month.
Oh, and then there are the additional fees and taxes. This is what you see when you click "See details:"
- $19.95 activation fee
- $15 per month remaining early termination fee
- Regional Sports Fee of up to $8.49/mo. (which is extra & applies to CHOICE and higher Pkgs)
AT&T TV is slightly more affordable to those who pay for other AT&T services. If you've got an unlimited AT&T wireless plan, the company will give you $10 off credits on your monthly bills for the first 12 months.
AT&T TV channels: What do you get?
AT&T TV's entry-level Entertainment package includes 71 channels, and that's before local broadcast networks, which vary by your location. For my address in New York, AT&T TV includes ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, as well as Telemundo, My Network TV and WLNY. That's a crazy-huge assortment, and you can skim the Entertainment package list here:
- Animal Planet
- BBC America
- Cartoon Network
- CNN en Español
- Comedy Central
- C-SPAN 2
- Disney Channel
- Disney Junior
- Disney XD
- Food Network
- Fox Business
- Fox News
- Gem Shopping Network
- Hallmark Channel
- Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
- Home Shopping Network
- Investigation Discovery
- National Geographic
- Nickelodeon East
- One American News Network
- TV Land
- WE tv
That's a strong assortment compared to the likes of Sling TV (which has fewer broadcast networks, with just NBC and FOX in select markets) and YouTube TV (no Viacom channels). AT&T TV also has some of the basics — such as ESPN, TBS and TNT — that Philo lack.s
For $55 per month for the first year, there's the AT&T TV Choice package, which adds sports channels such as MLB Network and the Tennis Channel, and Sundance TV and the Travel Channel. Its $65 per month Xtra package tosses in even more than Choice, with channels such as Nat Geo Wild, NBC Golf, CBS Sports Network and FXM.
AT&T TV sports: What do you get?
AT&T TV is no FuboTV (the service for fans of all the athletic competitions, especially the more esoteric sports), but it's got an OK assortment of sports networks. That assortment starts with ESPN and ESPN2, neither of which are in Fubo. Then there's also FS1, NBCSN and TNT.
You also get any available local sports channels, such as MSG and YES in NYC.
AT&T TV extras: Special features and add-on channels
On top of the 70+ channels, AT&T TV throws in more than pieces of 40,000 on-demand content. And since the "next-gen device" is an Android TV-based box, you can also download apps onto it from the Google Play store.
Need premium content? AT&T TV sells a premium channels super-pack, that combines HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, Starz and Epix at $54 per month, with your first 3 months off.
There's also a $5 per month Spanish-language sports pack, a larger $15 per month Español package that's got sports, news and telenovelas. There are also Vietnamese ($20 per month), Brazilian ($30 per month) and Korean ($30 per month) content packages.
Oh, and if you love talking to your TV, AT&T TV built Google Assistant into its remote. That means you can navigate to a channel with your own voice, and control connected smart home devices as well. It's a lot like what you get with the Fire TV Cube.
AT&T TV devices
AT&T TV is barely anywhere. Its hardware doesn't even have a name, AT&T just refers to it as "our next-gen device," which conjures images of a new gaming console. Except not. This is how the status quo attempts to keep things as is.
In theory, I could imagine an older customer or two who don't own a Roku or Fire TV Stick, who don't want to buy anymore hardware. Except, these "next-gen devices" cost a pretty penny, as you're paying $120 per additional box, which is $30 more than even the high-powered Roku Ultra, which isn't tied down to a particular provider — and has apps for every other live TV streaming service.
- AT&T TV "next-gen device"
- iPhones and iPads
- Android phones and tablets
- web browsers
AT&T TV Cloud DVR: How much space do you get?
By default, AT&T TV includes 500 hours of recorded storage. That's quite a large amount, and more than Sling (10 hours) or FuboTV (30 hours) give. At the same time, when you consider how the second month jacks the price up, AT&T TV should give unlimited cloud storage, like YouTube TV.
AT&T TV internet speed requirements
AT&T TV delivers your TV over the internet, not through a coaxial cable or satellite, so you're going to want to make sure your internet is fast enough.
AT&T recommends "a minimum of 8Mbps per stream for optimal viewing. If bundling with AT&T Internet, we recommend the Internet 25 plan or higher for optimal viewing of up to 3 concurrent AT&T streams."
AT&T TV on-demand content: What can I watch?
There's no list of what's there, because it's always changing. When I contacted AT&T TV technical support, Hanna told me the library of "more than 55,000 titles on demand ... is constantly changing because this is something that the networks ... upload... to the platform."
AT&T TV Now vs WatchTV vs AT&T TV
Comically, AT&T TV is also the name of AT&T's family of streaming services.
Yes, AT&T TV is a service within a group of services of the same name. Positioned as the next version of AT&T U-verse TV, AT&T TV is the most cable-TV like package, and built around the aforementioned rented "next-gen device."
Then, there's the utter mouthful that is AT&T TV Now, the repackaged DirecTV Now. It's more of a month-by-month streaming service, sitting alongside Sling and YouTube TV, but much more expensive.
And then there's WatchTV, the cheapest of the group. It has no local broadcast networks or sports, which is how it's more affordable.
Is AT&T TV worth it?
The potential audience for AT&T TV seems fairly narrow. Like traditional cable TV, you get a wide set of channels, and there's annual contracts and terms, but it's delivered over the internet and not through a coaxial cable or a satellite dish.
You should get AT&T TV if you don't mind all the restrictions of cable TV, but just wish it had an Android TV box and not a traditional cable box.
How do I cancel AT&T TV if I don't like it?
Annoyingly, you're gonna get hit with a $10 per month fine — multiplied by the number of remaining months on your 12 month contract — if you so decide you want to get away from AT&T TV.
You can cancel your account with an agent's help online at att.com/acctmgmt/passthrough/atvnlander (opens in new tab). Those who want to talk to someone on the phone should call 1-800-288-2020.