AT&T is dropping DirecTV from the name of its streaming service.
On Tuesday, DirecTV Now customers received notices saying the name of that service had been changed to AT&T TV Now.
The move comes as AT&T tests a separate live television service with fewer TV channels called AT&T TV. That version, which requires high-speed internet access, is being tested in some markets this summer before a wider rollout. It will contain live channels, a trove of on-demand program options and access to popular apps such as Netflix.
“That’s our live TV service over broadband. We have some really high expectations for this product, and we’re going to learn from the pilot and then we’ll expand to more cities as we go through the year,” AT&T Chairman and Chief Executive Randall Stephenson told investors last week during an earnings call. The new service will work with a voice remote powered by Google Assistant.
“Current DirecTV Now customers will also see a new name — AT&T TV Now — appear on their screen,” AT&T said Tuesday in a statement. The company said customers would be able to use the same app to access programming on their mobile device or big screen, but they must accept new terms of service.
At least for now, AT&T is retaining the DirecTV brand for the pioneering satellite TV service.
DirecTV, based in El Segundo, was a revolutionary concept when it launched in 1990 as a division of Hughes Communications. Within a few years, satellite dishes were popping up on homes, particularly in rural areas that were not served by a traditional cable company. DirecTV grew to be the nation’s premier television provider with more than 20 million subscribers, in part on the strength of its NFL Sunday Ticket package.
AT&T, which earlier had launched the cable-delivered U-Verse service, acquired DirecTV in 2015 for $49 billion. AT&T rolled out the DirecTV Now streaming service the following year to capture consumers at a lower price point and appeal to apartment dwellers who couldn’t install a satellite dish.
But AT&T has struggled with massive defections from DirecTV, DirecTV Now and U-Verse. The company has lost about 2 million pay-TV customers in the last year, a steeper drop than other television distributors. AT&T reported last week that 778,000 customers had dropped its DirecTV and U-verse pay-TV services in the second quarter.
AT&T has also been warring with broadcast station groups, including CBS Corp. and Nexstar. AT&T customers have been without CBS channels since July 20.