| March 6, 2022
In the early evening of Sunday night, March 1, about 12 days after cutting the cord, there is a headline in my e-mail inbox. AT&T has yet ANOTHER offering for streaming. How many ways can one company flip-flop on their plans for The Future?
But seriously… this is becoming a real problem for AT&T, as the people who have been cord-cutting up until recently have been focused on the details of making this choice, and when you significantly change your offering four times in a year, there is a loss of trust that becomes more and more corrosive.
Still, as someone who is in the early stages of being a cord cutter, my family and I still want to have easy access to more than we could ever consume. We are greedy. And we are willing to pay a reasonable price. So digging into the “AT&T TV” offering (that’s the name, don’t get to used to it!), I went…
This is for the XTRA plan. That’s almost all the programming they have. That first three months is with free premium channels, which adds $54 in months 4-12 and then goes nuts, up to $186.49 in the second year to which this program commits you.
There is an offering for internet access at a discount from what I pay now, $40 a month for fiber optic for 12 months and then up to $60 in the second 12-month commitment window. That would save $240 in a year… except that they have a new $10-a-month fee for the modem/wifi, so that eats the entire savings. (Without getting internet in the same package, the monthly cost in the first year rises $10, but in Year 2, is exactly the same.)
The first year of this whole package is a wash, pretty much, with the set-up I already have. What is attractive about this is what seems to be a more convenient set-top box with a single remote doing all of the work, and no need to flip to HBO or Netflix on another app. But there is another catch to that. There is an equipment fee of $360 for boxes for each TV. That can be paid upfront or monthly over the course of the first year, the point being that the Year 2 cost includes that $30 a month falling off the bill. So if you stretch that cost out over two years instead of one, the monthly cost in Year 2 is a bit over $200 a month.
I am having déjà vu. BAD déjà vu.
The increased cost from where I am now would be about $850 over two years or about $35 a month for those 24 months.
Is this offering worth it?
Well… (sigh)… I’m paying $20 a month for Comedy Central and the Nickelodeon channels on Philo and that feels insane… but I want to watch those shows. (That $20 is included in my monthly calculations.) For better, both of those channels would be on the system with AT&T. HBO too. Integrated. Easier. Better remote.
Just because there is a more complex remote doesn’t mean the interface will be as good as YouTube TV or others. I did a trial of Fubo last week to watch the NFL combine (not available on AT&T TV, either), and I loved how they did forwarding (you could see the show as you moved forward in 30 second chunks… so much better than anyone else), but what will AT&T TV offer? No idea. And it is super-odd how little detailed info is readily available in this pitch. But it’s what it is.
There are other benefits for brand new AT&T subscribers in the form of up to $250 in gift cards. And other concerns, like the mention of the upcoming HBO Max as something that will make “special offers” to AT&T TV subs… but not free access… but HBO is currently priced at the same monthly prices as HBO Max and that is built in, so won’t you feel completely screwed if they want to add more to your bill for the exact cost equivalent?
You can cancel this new AT&T TV service within 14 days without a penalty. So I think I have to do that. Because the real question for my household is whether the improved remote and, one hopes, a more streamlined experience with all the channels, is worth a buck a day for the next couple years. It may be. It could just as easily not be.
But I have to say, AT&T makes it hard. It’s hard to trust them on consistency right now. It’s hard to look at the second year explosion of cost and not be angry and feel that you will be screwed.
The month commitment for two years is, simply $165.24 a month for 4fourTVs at the XTRA level. ($5 a month for every TV past the first for the equipment, so you could get it down to $150 a month for one TV.) This is just too high in 2020.
$130 a month… maybe $125 a month… and this thing becomes a real hit.
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