AT&T’s new live TV streaming service DirecTV Now has been off to a shaky start in terms of performance, but that hasn’t stemmed the flow of sign-ups, AT&T reports. The company said the service added more than 200,000 subscribers in its first month of operations.
The filing also notes the additions only include paying customers. To be clear, there’s no free tier for DirecTV Now, but the company has been offering free trials so customers can kick the tires before committing to a subscription plan.
Of course, it’s not entirely surprising that DirecTV Now was able to gain so many customers in such a short period of time. On paper, at least, the service sounds compelling.
Special launch pricing offered consumers over 100 channels for just $35 per month, with the option to add on premium networks like HBO and Cinemax for just $5 more apiece. Meanwhile, sports fans gain access to the MLB, NHL, NBA, and ESPN networks, among others.
AT&T said its rates will increase in time, but promised early adopters would be grandfathered into the promotional pricing for as long as they use the service.
In addition, AT&T gave away Amazon Fire TV Stick devices and Apple TVs to those who committed to either a one-month or three-month plan, respectively.
Then there’s the fact that DirecTV Now’s streams will be zero-rated on AT&T’s network – meaning cellular subscribers wouldn’t have to pay for the data consumed when streaming the service from their mobile devices.
Combined, the offers likely encouraged many of those in the market for a live TV service to give DirecTV Now a shot. And with the hardware giveaways, many probably opted to become paying customers, too.
What’s not known at this point, is whether this level of growth will continue or if AT&T will even be able to hold onto these current customers over time.
The service has suffered heavily from glitches, including freezing, buffering, and more, much to the frustration of a number of customers. Complaints have filled up AT&T’s forums, and customers were shocked to find that they couldn’t get refunds even though they weren’t able to use the service as promised. Some even filed complaints with the FCC as a result.
Still, being able to convert that many consumers to paying customers in a short period is notable. Rival Sling TV, from Dish, has been on a slower growth trajectory. That service has more than 600,000 subscribers, The WSJ reported in early 2016, but it had been around for a year at that point. A more recent estimate from this past fall puts the service at over 1 million subscribers.
Hulu, an established brand, is about to enter the space as well.
Plus, Netflix is now booming thanks to its investment in original content. In its earnings report this week, the company posted its biggest ever quarterly subscriber growth, with the addition of 7.05 million new customers to bring its total worldwide customer base to 93.8 million.