Faced with a declining traditional TV segment, AT&T is currently beta testing an Android TV-based device that’s meant to be an easy way of getting DirecTV Now onto the TVs and in front of the eyes of more people. The small set-top box will be more widely available on a trial basis “in the first half of next year,” AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan said today. TechCrunch reported on the ongoing beta period, and Variety first revealed the AT&T device — model number C71KW-400 — a year ago.
Based on leaks and FCC filings, we know a few things about AT&T’s gadget. It runs Android TV, allows access to other streaming apps, and includes a voice search remote. It supports optical audio, has an HDMI output, and a USB port. That’s all very par for the course, so there’s little incentive for customers to want AT&T’s hardware unless it’s essentially free for DirecTV Now subscribers.
AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Uverse businesses lost 346,000 subscribers this quarter, the company said in today’s earnings release. DirecTV Now is trending upward, however, picking up 49,000 new accounts and now standing at 1.86 million total subscribers. That’s still far off from the growth of a company like Netflix, which added 1.09 million new domestic subscribers last quarter.