Last updated on Feb 13, 2020

AT&T TV Review

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AT&T TV

  • Live TV with built-in streaming apps
  • Smooth and simple user interface
  • Impressive bundle deals
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How We Reviewed AT&T TV

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1 week of research

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5 packages assessed

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3 competitors compared

If there’s one area AT&T has consistently outshined its competitors in, that’s the number of services the company offers. Although each service is designed to appeal to a specific audience — think DIRECTV for sports fans – each service remains relatively similar. Recently, AT&T announced a brand-new streaming service called AT&T TV. The service offers both live and on-demand content, access to over 5,000 apps, and up to 500 hours of DVR storage. Unlike DIRECTV Now, which recently rebranded as AT&T TV Now, AT&T TV requires a set-top box. We received exclusive early access to see what exactly this new service has to offer for both new and traditional TV audiences.

AT&T TV
AT&T

AT&T TV

The Claim

Coming off the big announcement, AT&T has described the new service as “Televisionary,” giving you access to “All your entertainment, all in one experience.” The description is certainly alluring but does it really alter the TV streaming landscape?

Is it true?

Although we didn’t find the new service to be revolutionary, we were impressed by the revamped, all-inclusive experience. As the cord-cutting trend continues to rise, consumers are more interested in streaming and on-demand content than paying for hundreds of live channels that hardly meet expectations. Coming up with new and exciting ways to entice users back to live TV has its challenges, especially for those who are strongly considering ditching cable altogether, but AT&T is taking a stab at it. With AT&T TV, you can easily navigate between live TV, on-demand content, and dozens of streaming apps all on one device.

AT&T TV Pros

  • Sleek and discreet TV box
  • Smooth and easy-to-navigate user interface
  • Impressive bundle deals

AT&T TV Cons

  • Expensive standalone TV plans
  • Still being rolled out

AT&T TV Plans and Prices

Plan Price Channels Popular Channels Best for
Entertainment $49.99/mo.* 65+ channels ESPN, HGTV, Nickelodeon, TNT Best Value
Choice $54.99/mo.* 85+ channels Travel, MLB, Tennis, Cooking Channel Best for Lifestyle channels
Xtra $64.99/mo.* 105+ channels GOLF, FXM, CBS Sports, NBA TV Best for Sports
Ultimate $69.99/mo.* 125+ channels STARZ ENCORE, Boomerang Best for Movies

*Package availability depends on location, prices may vary by location.

Who is each AT&T TV package best for?

  • Entertainment — Best value
  • Choice — Best for lifestyle channels
  • Xtra — Best for sports
  • Ultimate — Best for Movies

AT&T TV Features

Clean and simple user interface

With almost any new device, you expect some kind of learning curve, but AT&T has found a way to successfully eliminate this curve. From the moment you’re prompted to enter your WiFi password to the point where you’re mindlessly scrolling through channels, setting up AT&T TV reminded us just how familiar we’ve become with connected devices. Once connected, you’re introduced to a surprisingly smooth, easy-to-navigate interface — our favorite aspect of AT&T TV. To truly get a feel for it, we spent over 20 hours switching between menus, browsing on-demand content, and endlessly scrolling through titles on Netflix. And while we usually just landed back on “The Office,” we found AT&T TV to be an immersive experience that doesn’t aim to reinvent the wheel, but simply to improve it.

There are five different menu options: Guide, Watch Now, My Library, Discover, and Apps. You’ll likely recognize these features, as they’re pretty standard among all television and streaming devices. The plus is that most users will be able to easily navigate between these features without feeling confused or overwhelmed. The downside is that there really aren’t any new features to sink your teeth into. The all-in-one experience is certainly polished and convenient, although current AT&T TV Now customers will find the interface is nearly identical (minus the Apps feature). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn’t provide much incentive for existing AT&T TV Now customers to switch.

Remote with voice assistant

With other providers like Xfinity bestowing customers with voice remotes at no extra cost, it’s no surprise AT&T assembled its own. Powered by Google, this is one of the more impressive voice remotes on the market. Not only does it have the ability to perform basic TV search commands — like searching for the next airing of “The Simpsons” — you can also ask it general questions that are unrelated to your service, like you would a Google assistant. If you don’t already have a voice assistant, this is a huge plus: You’ll finally have the ability to check the weather, traffic, and day-to-day news all at the touch of a button. Additionally, this is a significant feature for disabled viewers. Turning up the volume on a TV is something most of us take for granted, but AT&T’s voice remote aims to give nearly everyone the ability to execute basic commands.

Lack of new features

In a world full of new and exciting devices rolling out every year, most people have come to expect features that help differentiate devices from the rest. This is where AT&T TV falls short. Although we were impressed by the smooth interface and app integrations, there weren’t any major features that separated it from other services like AT&T TV Now or Hulu + Live TV. And even though it’s more intuitive and quicker than traditional cable television, we expected a bit more from a “televisionary” service. Unless you’re somebody who needs an additional 450 hours of DVR storage and enjoys having a contract, AT&T TV Now and Hulu + Live TV remain the more convenient and cost-effective ways to go.

Compare TV Service Providers

AT&T TV AT&T TV Now Hulu + Live TV Spectrum TV
Price From $50/mo. From $50/mo. From $55/mo. From $45/mo.
States served 8 50 50 46
Contract 24-months No-contract No-contract No-contract
App Integration
Self Installation N/A N/A
Requires Box
Details Read Review Read Review Read Review

*Prices for stand-alone TV service, current at the time of publication. Prices may vary by location.

Who is each TV provider best for?

  • AT&T TV – Best for Bundling
  • AT&T TV Now – Best for Movie Lovers
  • Hulu + Live TV – Best for Cord Cutters
  • Spectrum TV – Best for Value

AT&T TV Price and Bundles

Stand-alone TV price

The biggest drawback of AT&T TV is easily the cost. AT&T TV currently starts at $49.99, but that price is just for the first year. The cheapest package, Entertainment, actually jumps up to $93 in the second year. And since you’re locked into a 24-month contract, you won’t be able to cancel without some hefty early termination fees. If this sounds eerily familiar, that’s because AT&T’s satellite provider, DIRECTV, is set-up in an identical fashion. We’re not exactly sure how AT&T intends on pulling users back to a contract-style service, especially when you consider how the TV streaming landscape is moving in the opposite direction. Unless AT&T internet is available to bundle with the service, it’s hard to imagine why anyone with DIRECTV, or even a cable provider, would make the switch.

Internet bundle

Although AT&T TV does offer some value as a standalone TV service, it’s significantly more appealing when bundled with AT&T internet. In fact, when paired with AT&T internet, it’s one of the most impressive bundles on the market. A recent Consumer Reports study found that the average household pays $173/mo. for bundles across all providers. With AT&T TV’s bundle packages starting at $79.99, you save $30 per month for the first year by combining AT&T TV and internet. And you’re only paying about half of the national average. Even with the price jump in the second year, this is a deal worth taking up. Unfortunately, we should note that AT&T internet is still fairly limited to 21 states while it’s being rolled out, and won’t be available nationwide until the first quarter of 2020.

AT&T TV Equipment, Contracts, and Fees

Sleek box design

Noticeably similar to previous AT&T boxes, the new AT&T TV box may underwhelm past AT&T users but should still impress any newcomers. Built with a minimalist design and a matte finish, the new box is skillfully discreet. There are five ports on the back, though most users will only need two: the HDMI and power ports. The other three ports — USB, digital audio, and ethernet — are great additions for niche purposes. When you consider how powerful this box is, the inconspicuous design makes it all the more impressive. If you’re looking for a box that is hardly noticeable and relies on simplicity over complexity, the AT&T TV set-top box excels in this regard.

Simple installation process

A top selling point for AT&T TV is the simple and convenient self-setup process. In a TV world plagued by satellite dishes, bulky cable boxes, and prolonged appointments, AT&T TV steers clear of overly complicated installations. Although AT&T provides a manual, setup is so straightforward that you probably won’t need it. Simply connect the HDMI cable to your TV, plug the power cord into an outlet, and voila — you’re ready to go.

We really appreciated this aspect of the service, especially considering how much of a hassle professional installations can be. For many people, the upfront installation cost can be enough to deter them from a service altogether. For others, the strain of having to take off work to make sure you’re home for a technician who might not even show up on time may not be worth it. The intent here is clear: AT&T TV is looking to connect with an audience that’s interested in television without all the bulky equipment, and most importantly, the painful installation process.

Contract

Like DIRECTV, AT&T TV requires a lengthy 24-month contract and most notably, features a second-year price hike. It’s a tough sell to fully commit to a TV service for any period of time, let alone two years — especially given the uptick in providers, like Spectrum, who are offering TV packages without contracts. Unlike DIRECTV and DISH, which have built their value on providing television to an audience that has little to no other options available, AT&T TV offers very little to justify that same contract. Satellite customers are in a contract because they often don’t have a choice. But with AT&T TV, customers are expected to sign a two-year contract when they likely have more convenient and cost-effective options available. This could be a deal breaker for many people.

Fees

  • Activation Fee ($19.95)
  • Regional Fees (Up to $8.49/mo.)
  • Taxes (Vary by state)

AT&T TV FAQ

The Bottom Line

It’s hard to see AT&T TV as a brand-new service when it’s essentially AT&T TV Now with built-in streaming apps. And since it still requires a contract, it feels more like a revamped cable service than it does a cord-cutting service. We certainly enjoyed the convenience of having live TV, on-demand content, and integrated apps all on one device, but didn’t feel those features justified the cost for the stand-alone service. If you’re a new buyer looking for a cable-like service with streaming capabilities, there are more cost-effective options on the market that have similar features. And for those who already have DIRECTV, the app integrations are certainly a plus, but they may not be enough to make the switch — especially if you already have a streaming device. However, if you’re lucky enough to have AT&T internet available and you’re looking to bundle, AT&T TV will exceed your expectations.

About the Authors

The Reviews.com staff is dedicated to providing you with all the deep-dive details. Our writers, researchers, and editors came together from Charlotte, Seattle, San Juan, Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, San Diego, and Chicago to put this review together.