Streaming TV With AT&T Just Got More Confusing

From raising prices to launching WatchTV, AT&T has made a lot of changes since acquiring Time Warner.
streaming TV

When AT&T was looking to acquire Time Warner, it indicated that it would lower consumer prices. Now that the merger is a done deal, however, it seems like we've only seen prices go up.

For starters, AT&T has more than doubled an "administrative fee" for wireless customers, raising it from 76 cents to $1.99. The carrier has also increased the cost of its DirecTV Now plans by $5 a month. And with a new streaming service and retooled wireless plans in place, it feels expensive to sign up with AT&T right now.

Less Access to Free HBO

Last year, AT&T started offering its unlimited data customers free HBO, which was great news for Game of Thrones fans. With the acquisition of Time Warner, many expected the perk to continue. But AT&T has decided to retool its unlimited plans. The monthly price for the entry-level unlimited plan recently increased by $5, and the plan's free-HBO perk was removed.

AT&T increased the price of its entry-level unlimited plan by $5, while also removing the plan's free-HBO perk.

Furthermore, the drawbacks of the plan have essentially remained the same. Users still have to deal with data that can be slowed down at any time, video quality is capped at 480p, and hotspot usage isn't available. Those who opt for the higher-tier unlimited plan get their choice of HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Starz, VRV, Amazon Music, or Pandora Premium as a free perk.

The good news is current customers will be able to keep their old plans, and will have the HBO benefit until they switch plans, according to an AT&T statement in Ars Technica.

New Streaming Service Launched

One thing the modified wireless plans do get at no extra charge is WatchTV. This new "low-cost live TV streaming service" from AT&T is cheaper than DirecTV Now and is priced at $15 a month for non-AT&T-unlimited customers. It comes in just below Philo, which was previously the lowest-priced streaming service and offers a different lineup (though the two services do share 25 of the same channels). In total, WatchTV has more than 30 live channels, as well as over 15,000 on-demand shows and movies.

SEE ALSO: 10 Ways to Stream TV and Save Money

WatchTV will be available on most major platforms, including iOS, Android, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast. AT&T has noted that only the Premium wireless subscribers will be able to watch high-quality video. WatchTV also has a notable lack of features that are common to other streaming services. For instance, AT&T won't be providing you with cloud DVR or support for multiple simultaneous streams.

There aren't many details about the standalone subscription for non-AT&T users yet, either, so we aren't sure if high-quality streaming will come at a higher cost for them. AT&T has noted that those details will be coming soon.

Readers, will you be checking out WatchTV? Or do you prefer another streaming service? Let us know in the comments below.

Julie Ramhold
Senior Staff Writer/Consumer Analyst

Julie's work has been featured on CNBC, GoBankingRates, Kiplinger, Marketwatch, Money, The New York Times, Real Simple, US News, WaPo, WSJ, Yahoo!, and more. She's extolled the virtues of DealNews in interviews with Cheddar TV, GMA, various podcasts, and affiliates across the United States, plus one in Canada.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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We avoid DirecTV simply due to their sleazy marketing and sales practices. Can't enter a Sams Club without being harrassed, yes, physically blocked from moving forward. Scum of the earth company. And DirecTV also sells via sleazy door to door, third party, often out of state, tinman traveling salespersons. They impersonate AT&T employees and will tell you anything they need to to get the hook in.

In the past I had to deal with DirecTV customer service. It was a nightmare crapshoot everytime you called them. Worst vendor we had. And we had at least 25 hookups with premium services.

Interesingly, while it had appeared AT&T was pressing customers off UVerse TV (both in our state and in another where relatives live), perhaps due to old copper wire capacity issues?... We're now again seeing advertising in our market for UVerse TV!?! Perhaps they are reaching the point where they have enough Fiber installed to offer it again? So perhaps DirecTV was a temporary stop-gap nightmare.
Let AT&T continue to try to gouge prices. More customers will leave them. That price hike on the $1.99 wireless admin fee was a particularly sleazy one. A back door price hike. "Admin" is simply part of the cost of doing business and an honest company would not break it out into a "fine print" charge. And it went on every single line you have so if you are a typical 4 line family it was a $100 per year price hike.

To those who do not have land Internet competition - at least in metro markets... look at your local municipality or cable TV boards. It is very likely they granted the monopoly to your single provider... or made it burdensome to have more than a couple providers. We have three providers.
As I was in the commutations business for many years, let me give the skinny on AT&T. IT IS A COMMUNICATION MONOPOLY MONGER! From 1981 to 84, they were split off (called Divestiture) by the government because of their efforts to become one. Prior to that, with their primary interest being growth consumption, their products & services sucked while their prices steadily increased. After the Divestiture & through the years to follow, all the regional Bell companies were given the "dial tone" responsibilities. Prices stabilized and, for the most part, customer representation & servicing was pleasant and productive. This seemed to improve every year. I, for one, was assigned Atlantic Bell who was great and when they became SBC Communications were even better. Fair prices and great service, what could be better?! But in the early 2000's, AT&T worked ita way back in. Since the name change, they're doing it again & it's back to increased prices, crappy service, & arrogant representation.
Is it any wonder AT&T is an Evil Empire? Their logo even looks like the Death Star.
The internet providers need to be broken up. We have a congress that is bought and paid for; as they were all ok with them raising prices. This much worse then higher taxes,now we pay more so a few get filthy rich.

. I live in a Chicago area, and I still only have one choice, For extremely overpriced internet
@jake2011 are you forced to watch advertisements and not able to "FF" through them?
I tried Att watch a week ago . Not bad for $15 a month, but Sling blue at $25 has more of my most watched channels.
Would cost me an extra $33 a month to switch my current plan to Att unlimited whatever, nope.

@macmanjimmy69 Never had problems with FF and Philo. Adding locals would defeat the purpose of Philo and double the price.
@rich_p the Go Big package will be going up 5 bucks, I got in on that deal also when it first came out, and now it is going to 40 bucks.

However I also was on the ATT unlimited plan with 3 lines, the new unlimited plan gives you the watch TV free with the unlimited plan, so i switched my att cell service plan to the new plan with watch tv which also went from 10g hotspot share to 15g hotspot share, something else was better with new plan also, and I end up paying 5 bucks less a month. The good thing I like about the watch TV is the on demand movies, plus I now get HBO free with it, I could not get HBO free with my go big package they said because i was getting the package deal rate it would not allow me to get hbo free too. Now I do. BAM! I still have the Go big package, combined with netflix and amazon prime, get way more for a lot less than time warner/spectrum rectum cable. I love with ATT they dont count streaming data against your plan.
Philo - FF forces you to watch the commercials cannot skip through, no Local channels and "Live / Guide" needs to have a "List View" too confusing
A multi-billion dollar corporation lied. SHOCKER!!!
Will stick with my grandfathered DTVNow $35/mo. "Go Big" package until AT&T decides to take that away. Just dropped AT&T cell service for Xfinity Mobile.