AT&T Gives DirecTV An Interface Lift, Looks To Mend Subscriber Losses
To curb the cord-cutting phenomenon and reverse recent TV subscriber attrition, AT&T is revamping and elevating its positioning of satellite TV service DirecTV and over-the-top live TV streaming service DirecTV Now.
At the same time, the telco giant is giving DirecTV a new look and feel through a re-designed user interface and program guide that started rolling out last week.
The user interface and on-screen grid bring a more modern look, reminiscent of over-the-air channel grids recently introduced on Roku TVs and Fire TVs. However, some of the satcaster’s aging and loyal subscribers might find it harder to read. Among the most striking changes is a reversal of colors in the guide, from the former dark lettering on a light background to thin white lettering on a solid black and gray background.
Channels are also identified by logos but can be harder to distinguish when viewed from across a room.
Read more on AT&T’s changes for DirecTV and U-Verse after the jump:
AT&T said the user interface upgrade, which began downloading as a software update Nov. 1 and is rolling out over the next few months to subscribers around the country, was developed “after extensive research,” and will be installed in the company’s Genie HD DVRs (model HR44 or later), and through related remote-room thin-client boxes linked to the Genie DVR server.
“This is only the first step toward a better content experience for DirecTV customers,” a statement announcing the GUI update said.
The revamp includes an entirely redesigned menu that DirecTV said it developed to simplify the entertainment experience.
Included is “a new menu that helps you find what’s playing on your most-watched networks, your recordings and On Demand content, all in one central location,” AT&T’s announcement reads.
As with the former guide, AT&T said the new one allows easier access and management of recordings “from a simplified, reorganized playlist.”
Also, users can conduct programming searches from any screen to find shows of interest. Viewers can “dive into content quickly with program details, recognizable posters and network logos, all on one screen.”
The improvements come following a third quarter financial report showing DirecTV lost 251,000 customers in the period while AT&T’s U-Verse business lost 134,000 pay-TV accounts.
The subscriber declines came despite nearly 300,000 new signups for the DirecTV Now streaming service. AT&T blamed recent hurricane activity for some of the video losses.
Meanwhile, in programming-related news, AT&T said its exclusive Taylor Swift NOW Behind-the-Scenes Series will be coming to all video platforms including DirecTV NOW, DirecTV and U-Verse.
As for U-Verse, AT&T continues to emphasize the satellite and telco-TV services over the company’s telco-TV platform, which makes use of fiber optic lines, where available.
AT&T is trying to encourage U-Verse subscribers to transition over to DirecTV or DirecTV Now. At the start of November AT&T shut down the service’s Uverse.com website.
Since 2013 the site has enabled subscribers to stream their channels and On Demand titles through the site, which has also served as an information and communications portal for U-Verse TV service and Internet plans. The former U-Verse site now directs internet visitors to att.com.
AT&T pointed out that the traditional U-Verse TV services continue, and subscribers can still use an app to stream programming as well as watch it on TVs using connected set-top boxes. In addition, U-Verse customers who switch over to the DirecTV satellite service, which the telco acquired in 2015, can visit Directv.com to stream subscribed channels.
In a statement, AT&T said that “to focus U-Verse mobile application functionality on core platforms, we will no longer support U-Verse streaming, program guide info and DVR management via the website, effective Oct. 31, 2017. We encourage our U-Verse customers to take advantage of the other streaming applications available to them, including via the iOS, Android and Fire platforms.”
Meanwhile, an AT&T spokesman told HD Guru that DirecTV continues to work on plans to add high dynamic range (HDR) support to its 4K Ultra HD services and “we’ll have more details for you soon.”
By Greg Tarr
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