AT&T’s streaming TV service for cord cutters, DirecTV Now, is finally getting a cloud DVR, among other features, the company announced today. The addition is part of a larger platform upgrade for AT&T’s TV applications, which includes both the streaming service DirecTV Now and the app for current DirecTV pay TV subscribers.
The cloud DVR is among the most anticipated, given that the streaming service launched without this now-common feature. No longer considered a “nice to have” add-on, the major live TV streaming services today – including Sling TV, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, and Hulu Live TV – make the ability to save shows and movies for later viewing a part of their service’s offering, either for an additional fee, or as part of their core experience.
AT&T’s DirecTV Now, however, launched without this key feature, promising instead that it would arrive sometime “next year.”
The service itself was first unveiled in late 2016 offering a variety of pricing tiers, beginning at $35 per month for over 60 channels. Today, the service provides a selection of live channels in 4K and HD quality, as well as up to 30,000 on-demand titles, depending on your plan.
Shortly after its debut, consumers were quickly frustrated with the new offering, due to glitches and freezing – something that seems to be common with launches from streaming services these days.
But that didn’t seem to dampen DirecTV Now’s early growth. Despite the glitches, the service added more than 200,000 subscribers in its first month of operations. That growth later slowed, Bloomberg reported, with a peak of 328,000 subscribers in January, then flat growth by March.
The DVR’s release could perk up those numbers, as could the other planned features.
Says AT&T, other new additions are arriving along with the public launch of the updated software later this year, including live TV pausing and parental controls. Meanwhile, user profiles, a “download and go” feature, and 4K HDR support are planned for a 2018 release.
However, users will be able to try out the cloud DVR ahead of the public launch.
AT&T says it will debut a beta testing program that will allow invited users to use the cloud DVR feature sometime this summer. The company is not yet saying how beta testers will be selected.
Beta testers won’t just have the chance to use the cloud DVR, notes AT&T. They’ll also be able to offer general feedback about the app’s new interface and share other opinions and suggestions.
This next-generation TV platform will begin to roll out publicly this fall to both DirecTV Now and DirecTV companion app users. The platform will also power all of AT&T video offerings, including DirecTV, U-verse, and NFL Sunday Ticket. The DirecTV Now companion apps will likely receive the new features first, the company says.