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AT&T's DirecTV Now Looking Like a Bargain for Consumers

DirecTV Now, AT&T's online streaming service that will offer a lot of DirecTV's content without the need for a satellite dish, will cost only $35 a month when it launches at the end of November. That could make it an appealing option for many consumers.

The new service will have more than 100 channels when it launches, according to remarks by AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, speaking at The Wall Street Journal D Live conference earlier today. The full channel lineup wasn't disclosed, but the service will have content from Time Warner, Fox, and NBCUniversal. The announcement comes just days after the company announced a deal to acquire Time Warner, home to popular cable channels such as HBO, CNN, and TBS.

The DirecTV Now price is much lower than industry watchers had expected, given the high number of channels included.

By comparison, the Orange plan from Dish's Sling TV offers about 20 channels for $20, while its $25 Blue package includes about 45 channels. A combined package with around 50 channels costs $40. 

Another competitor, PlayStation Vue, includes approximately 55 channels in its $30 per month starter package, while its Elite Slim Plan offers 100-plus channels for $55 a month.

As we reported earlier this month, DirectTV Now customers will be limited to just one or two simultaneous streams, which could be a deal-breaker for homes with multiple users.

The deal is particularly good for AT&T mobile customers. For them, entertainment streamed through the service to a phone or tablet won't be counted against their cellular data limits. If you get your mobile service from another provider, you'll likely burn up a lot of data when you stream videos. That may quickly create problems for people with data caps or limited-data plans.

"Zero-rating" plans like this, which exempt a company's own data from caps or surcharges, have come under fire for violating the spirit of net neutrality.

We're looking forward to checking out DirecTV Now when it launches late next month, and seeing how it compares to the company's satellite-based service, as well as to other streaming alternatives to pay TV.

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