AT&T U-verse

At one time, U-verse was the crown jewel of AT&T’s TV services. Unfortunately, AT&T has stopped backing it with the same enthusiasm it once did. Now that it owns DIRECTV and DIRECTV NOW, many believe the company is pulling the plug on U-verse in favor of ramping up its more impressive TV services. To be totally honest, U-verse’s channel lineup just doesn’t compare to other providers. If you’re set on sticking with AT&T as your TV provider, your best bet would be looking into DIRECTV or DIRECTV NOW, since the company has plans to funnel U-verse customers into these services in the future. Both boast better price points and the reassurance that they’ll still be around a few years from now.

The Claim

AT&T gives customers access to over 225 HD channels and lets them record up to four shows simultaneously with its HD DVR. In addition, it lets customers stream TV from anywhere using its app.

Is it true?

Yes, but the free HD DVR and app are two of U-verse’s only selling points. And even then, these offers come with caveats. The app is the only option for watching shows outside of your TV, as streaming is no longer supported on web browsers. And the 225 HD channels U-verse boasts are only available when you upgrade to U-verse’s most expensive U450 package and add on the HD premium tier — an extra $7 a month on top of the cost of the package. Other providers typically provide more HD channels without the added cost.

Product Overview

Best for

Because of its subpar channel offerings and decreasing availability, we don't recommend this service to those searching for a long-term TV provider.

Not for

People who want a TV provider with staying power, the ability to stream from all devices, and a variety of channels at a decent price

Features

Price Promotional price: $35-$110 per month for the first year; $79-$139 per month after the first year
Standout Features
  • Free HD DVR that simultaneously records up to four shows
  • U-verse app that streams on-demand and live programming
States Served 21
Fees
  • Broadcast fee: up to $5.99 per month
  • Early termination fee: $15 per month for each month remaining on agreement
  • Activation fee: $35
  • Additional receivers: $10 per month per receiver
  • Premium HD channels fee: $7 per month
Terms 12-month agreement required. Promotional prices reflect a $5 discount for enrolling in autopay. Must enroll in autopay within the first 30 days of activation, and the credit won't apply for one to three months. This means that if you go with the U-Family package, you'll pay $40 for up to three months before the price drops to the advertised $35 per month. This autopay credit ends after the first year.

Free HD DVR

Each household receives a free HD DVR with any package. And, with the ability to record up to four shows at once, you’ll never have fights over whose favorite shows take priority.

U-verse app

Even though you can’t stream shows and movies at uverse.com, you can still download the U-verse app to access live and on-demand programming. It works on most devices, giving you complete access to your service while on the go. Need to keep the kids entertained on a long road trip? Stream their favorite shows directly to your tablet via the U-verse app.

Bundle options

Bundling U-verse with AT&T Internet and Digital Home Phone saves you some money. U-Verse and AT&T Internet bundles start at $65 per month for the first year ($109 per month after the first year) and include the most basic TV package — U-Family — as well as up to 50 Mbps internet speeds with unlimited data. If bought separately, U-Family costs $35 per month for the first year, and AT&T Internet costs $40 per month for the first year (internet is not unlimited if bought separately).

$200 Visa reward card

AT&T is giving all customers who sign up for U-verse a $200 Visa reward card for a limited time.

Possible Drawbacks

Uncertain future

At this time, it doesn’t look like U-verse will be around much longer. With AT&T’s acquisition of DIRECTV, it appears that it is emphasizing the the satellite service at the expense of U-verse. As the Dallas Business Journal reported, “the company has been aggressively moving customers over to its DIRECTV service since it acquired the company.” Whether this means that AT&T plans to reinvent U-verse or complete phase it out is unclear at this time. It also appears that AT&T wants to push streaming through DIRECTV NOW by 2020.

Weak channel lineup

As far as available channels go, U-verse’s lineup is pretty subpar. Though its entry-level U-Family package boasts over 200 channels, many of these aren’t the standard ones you’d expect from a basic TV package. Your kids won’t be able to watch Adventure Time or Teen Titans Go!, for example, because Cartoon Network isn’t included in the U-Family package. You can upgrade beyond U-Family and get access to more channels, but U200 — the second-cheapest package — is $20 more per month and jumps up to $98 after the first year. You might as well go with DIRECTV’s entry-level package, which offers better channels than U200 at a lower price point.

Limited availability

U-verse is only available in 21 states and may even be limited to certain cities within these states. Meanwhile, AT&T’s other TV provider — DIRECTV — is available nationwide. This lack of coverage is another reason to question AT&T’s devotion to U-verse.

Fee for premium HD channels

Most HD channels are only available on U-verse’s most expensive U450 package. And if you like watching Game of Thrones in full HD glory, then you’ll have to pay up even further. U-verse charges an extra $7 per month to access HD versions of premium channels like HBO, Showtime, and Starz.

Price hikes

AT&T recently discounted U-verse packages to make them seem more appealing. However, after the first year, some of these packages almost double in price. If you’re getting the U200 plan, expect it to go from $55 to $98 in the second year. That’s not that unusual with TV providers — DISH Network is the only one we saw that locks in your price for two years — but it’s still good to be aware before making a commitment.

The Competition

AT&T U-verse
DIRECTV
Charter Spectrum
DIRECTV NOW
Price
$35-$110 per month for first year
$35-$110 per month for first year
$30-$70 per month for first year
$35-$70 per month
States Available
21
50
45
50
Number of Channels
550+
325+
200+
120+
Contract Length
12 months
24 months
12 months
1 month
4K Channels
HD DVR

AT&T U-verse vs. DIRECTV

Acquired by AT&T in 2015, DIRECTV is one of the largest TV providers in the US, using satellites to transmit your favorite shows and movies to your television. DIRECTV’s nationwide availability extends its reach to far more customers than U-verse. One of the things that makes DIRECTV popular is its access to NFL Sunday Ticket. By adding NFL Sunday Ticket to your package, you can watch live out-of-market football games from anywhere every Sunday. So, if you’re a die-hard Patriots fan living in California, you can still cheer on your favorite team from across the country. U-verse doesn’t offer the same exclusive programming.

AT&T U-verse vs. Charter Spectrum

Even though AT&T plans to acquire Time Warner Inc., Charter Spectrum will still own internet and cable provider Time Warner Cable. It’s available in 45 states and includes free HD with its TV packages. Spectrum’s cable TV service is roughly the same price as U-verse, but we thought its packages were better all around. The Silver and Gold options include premium movie channels like HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime, along with sports channels like the NFL Network. Plus, at $70 per month, Charter Spectrum’s Gold package is significantly cheaper than U-verse’s top-tier package, which goes for $110.

AT&T U-verse vs. DIRECTV NOW

DIRECTV NOW is fast becoming one of the most popular live streaming services. Not only does a DIRECTV NOW subscription provide the most popular channels (including local networks) without the padding, it also gives you access to thousands of on-demand titles. As with standard DIRECTV, DIRECTV NOW offers fewer channels than U-verse but includes a higher concentration of high-quality networks. And unlike U-verse, you’re not locked into a contract longer than a month, and you can stream through TVs, mobile devices, and web browsers.

AT&T U-verse FAQs

What’s the difference between AT&T U-Verse and DIRECTV?

The main difference between AT&T’s two TV services is in how they’re delivered to you. DIRECTV uses satellite technology to transmit TV signals into your home, whereas U-verse streams television through your internet service. DIRECTV requires more advanced installation, but we thought its channel lineup was much stronger across the board. You can read about this more in detail in our review of DIRECTV.

Do I need to buy AT&T Internet to get U-verse?

Not necessarily. You would be able to use another internet provider in combination with U-verse TV, but you wouldn’t have access to many of the extra features that come with the service. For example, DVR features would be significantly limited. You also wouldn’t be able to access the mobile app and watch TV remotely without AT&T Internet.

How long will U-verse be around for?

Most people seem to think that the end is near for U-verse. Bloomberg wrote in early 2016 that it’s no longer a priority for AT&T and will likely be shelved for good, claiming, “AT&T has stopped building U-verse set-top boxes and is nudging prospective customers toward its satellite unit.” The provider has basically said the same, too. When AT&T shuttered uverse.com in late 2017, a spokesman told the Dallas Business Journal that the company was “simply focusing [its] resources on the streaming applications that are most used by our customers.”

The Bottom Line

Formerly one of the most innovative TV services, AT&T U-verse is now fading into obscurity. Even with its free HD DVR and app, jumping on the U-verse bandwagon this late in the game isn’t a great idea. Its uncertain future, limited availability, and lackluster channel lineup point to U-verse not being worth your money or time. If you’re looking for a new TV provider to fit your needs, go with DIRECTV or a live streaming service like DIRECTV NOW.