Following rivals, AT&T says DirecTV won't need a dish or box

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

NEW YORK (AP) — Like other cable and satellite companies, AT&T is trying to make it a little easier to sign up for traditional TV.

It said Tuesday that DirecTV packages that run on apps and don't need a dish or TV set-top box are coming in the fourth quarter. You don't have to be an AT&T phone customer to sign up.

But it's hard to gauge how appealing these deals will be. AT&T, which bought DirecTV last year, isn't providing details about prices, which channels or video will be available, or whether they'll be any content blackouts on mobile devices or computers when you step outside your house.

The industry shift to ditch equipment that adds to the cost of TV service comes as a growing number of people cancel their traditional TV subscriptions. Young people are considered especially unlikely to pay for a bundle.

Over the past year, rival cable and satellite companies have introduced TV-watching apps aimed at millennials, like Comcast's Stream and Dish Network's Sling. But they have limitations — some restrict which devices you can watch on and there are rights issues that make programs or channels unavailable.

Competition is increasing as phone companies want to be video hubs, too. T-Mobile lets you watch video from dozens of providers, including HBO Now, Netflix and Hulu, without using up data on your plan. Verizon exempts its own video app, which has some full-length TV episodes.

Dallas-based AT&T Inc. said it is planning packages that have "much of what is available from DirecTV today" as well as a service that only works on phones and a free offering with ads.