Of all the attempts in distributing traditional TV channels online, DirecTV’s may be the one that has faced the most skepticism. With a starting price of $35 a month—rising as channels are added—DirecTV Now seemed destined to lose money. Customers initially complained the service was glitchy. Investors worried the service would steal customers from its older sibling, DirecTV, the satellite TV giant.
But in an interview on the sidelines of Mobile World Congress, a key executive says those glitches have been ironed out and the service is drawing younger, tech-savvy viewers, not people looking to save money. The company recently reported DirecTV Now had signed up 200,000 subscribers, while DirecTV and AT&T’s landline TV business have 25.3 million between them. Still, the executive, Tony Goncalves, senior VP of strategy and business development for AT&T Entertainment Group, acknowledges the hurdles AT&T faces in going up against tech giants like Facebook and Google.