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AT&T hints at DirecTV Now 'double-play' deals with wireless

An AT&T executive suggests deals would bundle its new streaming-TV product with wireless service, a TV-plus-connectivity bundle for the mobile age.

AT&T Entertainment executive Brad Bentley introduced DirecTV Now Monday.
Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

AT&T may have more DirecTV Now discounts up its sleeve.

In an interview late Monday, AT&T Entertainment executive Brad Bentley said the company is considering offers for its new live-TV streaming service that take advantage of its national wireless network. He suggested the deals could mimic "double-play" deals of cable companies but would marry wireless phone service with streaming TV instead.

"Life gets better when have you multiple products," said Bentley, the executive vice president of marketing in the AT&T Entertainment arm that houses DirecTV Now. "I can combine two products and provide exceptional value."

A new kind of "double-play" for the mobile age, it would mark the first time wireless services would be bundled with a digital pay-TV subscription.

For consumers, it would offer a fresh option for TV-plus-connectivity, which for decades has been marked by limited choice in your individual market. It comes at a time when people are using their mobile connections to watch video. About 60 percent of the data on AT&T's own network is gobbled up by its customers' video streaming.

Cable companies, penned in to single-market monopolies where their cables are buried underground, have long offered double-play discounts to customers who sign up for broadband internet plus pay-TV. But until AT&T bought DirecTV last year, no national wireless provider was in a position to offer a companion television deal without the costly task of installing fiber-optic lines everywhere.

DirecTV Now changed that. AT&T will launch the live-TV streaming service Wednesday, initially offering more than 100 live channels of television for a promotional rate of $35 a month. It takes aim at cable and satellite rivals (including AT&T's own U-Verse video service), and it is cheaper pound-for-pound than digital competitors like Dish's Sling TV and Sony's Playstation Vue.

It also gives AT&T a pay-TV service it can deploy across the US with any ditch-digging or household installation visits.

"It's a great match for us to take a nationwide wireless network and marry it with a nationwide high value content product," AT&T Entertainment CEO John Stankey said Monday at the service's unveiling. The company is putting its wireless advantage to work already: Streaming DirecTV Now won't count against data caps for AT&T connectivity customers.

Should AT&T pursue a wireless/DirecTV Now bundled deal, it may not be unique for long. Cable giant Comcast earlier this year said it would launch a national wireless service next year that will lean on its Wi-Fi hotspots to make connections and then will fill in its coverage gaps by borrowing Verizon's network.

AT&T last year offered a wireless deal bundled with traditional DirecTV services. It combined TV and wireless services for four lines starting at $200 per month, a $10 discount.