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AT&T Offers New DirecTV Now Subs Free Roku, Looking to Revive Signups

Variety logo Variety 6/15/2017 Todd Spangler
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AT&T is trying to breathe new life into DirecTV Now, the company’s over-the-top TV service, by offering a free Roku Premiere set-top when they prepay for two months of the service.

The move is clearly designed to boost signups for the service, which reportedly saw its subscriber growth stall in the first quarter of 2017.

DirecTV Now got an initial spurt when it launched last fall — with heavy incentives and discounts — roping in more than 200,000 subs in Q4, according to AT&T. But after reaching 328,000 subs at the end of January, DirecTV Now actually lost a net 3,000 customers in February and was flat in March, Bloomberg reported, citing anonymous sources.

An AT&T rep said DirecTV Now “is meeting our expectations” but otherwise declined to comment. The telco hasn’t disclosed subscriber figures for DirecTV Now apart from the Q4 results.

The strong early signups were certainly driven by the heavily discounted intro offer for DirecTV Now “Go Big” package — which offered more than 100 channels for $35 per month. AT&T ended that promo pricing will end Jan. 9, 2017 less than six weeks after the OTT service launched, and the 100-channel bundle now costs $60 monthly.

DirecTV Now suffered several technical glitches in the first few months after launch, which may have led to customer attrition. Meanwhile, CBS remains unavailable on DirecTV Now, as the satellite operator has been unable to reach a deal with the broadcaster for the OTT service.

In late May, DirecTV Now became available on select Roku devices, including Roku TV 4K models, the Roku Ultra, Roku Premiere+, Roku Premiere, Roku Express, Roku Express+, Roku Streaming Stick (model 3600R), Roku 4, Roku 3 and Roku 2 (model 4210). At launch, the service supported access via fourth-generation Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Fire Stick TV, Google Chromecast, iPad and iPhone, Android devices and web browsers.

DirecTV Now is available currently in four tiers: $35 monthly for about 60 channels; $50 monthly for 80-plus channels; $60 per month for 100-plus channels; and the “Gotta Have It” option at $70 monthly for more than 120 channels.

When DirecTV Now launched last November, AT&T also dangled other signup incentives for a limited time: It gave a free Apple TV to those who paid for three months upfront, and an Amazon Fire TV Stick with one month of prepaid service.

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