AT&T TV Service Goes Dark On Roku As The Streaming Wars Get Stupid

from the meet-the-new-boss dept

For years cable customers have been plagued by content blackouts as cable providers and broadcasters bicker over new programming contracts. So called “retransmission feuds” usually go something like this: a broadcaster demands a cable company pay twice as much money to carry the same content. The pay TV provider balks, and blacks out the aforementioned content. Consumers spend a few months paying for content they can’t access, while the two sides bitch at each other and try to leverage consumer anger against the other guy. After a while a new confidential deal is struck, and customers face a higher bill with little to show for it. Rinse, wash, repeat.

While some might think the innovative streaming revolution is going to fix stupidity like this, evidence suggests that’s not likely. This week, AT&T’s creatively-named streaming app, AT&T TV Now, was unceremoniously pulled from all Roku streaming hardware after a contract between the two companies expired and they couldn’t agree on a new one. As a result, existing users can still access the AT&T streaming apps on the platform, but any new AT&T TV subscribers will suddenly find the app won’t work on the most popular streaming platform on the market:

“AT&T may ultimately hurt more than Roku from the dispute: Roku is one of the top streaming hardware devices in the United States, with around one in four homes picking it over similar devices offered from Apple and Amazon. On the other hand, AT&T has been losing ground to startup services like YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV and Fubo since the company nearly doubled its subscription fee since it launched a few years ago.”

It’s possible the stand off involves a dispute over revenue from collected consumer data, given AT&T’s ambitions in the video ad space. But, just like the retrans fights of old, nobody’s actually willing to say what the problem is, because consumer welfare (as usual) is a distant afterthought. AT&T’s website statement to consumers is murky at best on what caused the blackout and when it might get resolved:

“Starting January 1, 2020, you won’t be able to add the AT&T TV channel to your Roku device. Already have AT&T TV on your Roku device? You can keep using it as long as you don’t delete the app. We’re actively working on a new agreement with Roku and hope to resolve this soon.”

In the interim, users who just got a shiny new Roku for Christmas and already pay AT&T for TV services are just shit out of luck, sorry. When you combine retrans fights with these new hardware/app maker feuds, one gets the impression these kinds of standoffs are only going to get dumber. In its fight over TV rates with Cablevision in 2010, News Corporation got Hulu to block Cablevision broadband customers from accessing all Fox content. Viacom did something similar in 2014 when it blocked all CableONE broadband customers from accessing Viacom content online, even if those broadband users were paying for TV from another provider.

US regulators generally don’t step into these kinds of feuds, viewing them as little more than gentlemanly debates, even if consumers are getting the short end of the stick. Given the FCC all but obliterating its own authority over telecom and cable at lobbyist behest, and the number of companies all vying for exclusive access to consumer viewing data and control over your viewing hardware, you can probably predict this kind of stuff is only going to get dumber in the next few years.

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: at&t, roku

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “AT&T TV Service Goes Dark On Roku As The Streaming Wars Get Stupid”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment

Why does there need to be an agreement between Roku and AT&T here? It’s a subscription service. I thought Netflix proved years ago that getting your app on as many devices as possible is better than trying to own the device space. Or is it Roku trying to extract money from AT&T because of their strength in that market? Either is idiotic.


Black Outs

The pay TV provider balks, and blacks out the aforementioned content. Consumers spend a few months paying for content they can’t access

When this happens to me, I unapologetically hit the torrent sites for the shows I’m missing. As you say, I’ve already paid for the content, so I’m not pirating it. I’m just getting what I paid for.


its taken years..

The TV corps still aint got this.
Ove rthe last 20 years they have gone back and forth, either sending the data to a site to use for their Service, or trying to build their own.
Hulu Loved trying to keep up with all the changes in contracts. And finally had to goto a pay site, with adverts also(dont knwo if they still have adverts)
Many services have gone up, trying to give free access to shows, and Some work, Some want more money and start adverts, some do adverts BETTER then TV or any of the rest, 30 sec and thats it.

The Corps have gotten themselves in trouble a few times, esp on the Cartoon sites and adverts, NOT for children.

Beyond all of this tends to be a mentality of How much can we get for this crap. How many times can we get paid for 1 thing, broadcast over and over and over. How many ways can we send this to them and Advert on everyone of them, so we get paid over and over and over.
How much money is enough?

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Older Stuff
13:40 It's Great That Winnie The Pooh Is In The Public Domain; But He Should Have Been Free In 1982 (Or Earlier) (35)
12:06 Norton 360 Now Comes With Crypto Mining Capabilities And Sketchy Removal Process (28)
10:45 Chinese Government Dragnet Now Folding In American Social Media Platforms To Silence Dissent (14)
10:40 Daily Deal: The 2022 Ultimate Cybersecurity Analyst Preparation Bundle (0)
09:29 A Fight Between Facebook And The British Medical Journal Highlights The Difficulty Of Moderating 'Medical Misinformation' (9)
06:29 Court Ruling Paves The Way For Better, More Reliable Wi-Fi (4)
20:12 Eighth Circuit (Again) Says There's Nothing Wrong With Detaining Innocent Minors At Gunpoint (15)
15:48 China's Regulatory War On Its Gaming Industry Racks Up 14k Casualties (10)
13:31 Chinese Government Fines Local Car Dealerships For Surveilling While Not Being The Government (5)
12:08 Eric Clapton Pretends To Regret The Decision To Sue Random German Woman Who Listed A Bootleg Of One Of His CDs On Ebay (29)
10:44 ICE Is So Toxic That The DHS's Investigative Wing Is Asking To Be Completely Separated From It (29)
10:39 Daily Deal: The 2022 Complete Raspberry Pi And Arduino Developer Bundle (0)
09:31 Google Blocked An Article About Police From The Intercept... Because The Title Included A Phrase That Was Also A Movie Title (24)
06:22 Wireless Carriers Balk At FAA Demand For 5G Deployment Delays Amid Shaky Safety Concerns (16)
19:53 Tenth Circuit Denies Qualified Immunity To Social Worker Who Fabricated A Mother's Confession Of Child Abuse (35)
15:39 Sci-Hub's Creator Thinks Academic Publishers, Not Her Site, Are The Real Threat To Science, And Says: 'Any Law Against Knowledge Is Fundamentally Unjust' (34)
13:32 Federal Court Tells Proud Boys Defendants That Raiding The Capitol Building Isn't Covered By The First Amendment (25)
12:14 US Courts Realizing They Have A Judge Alan Albright Sized Problem In Waco (17)
10:44 Boston Police Department Used Forfeiture Funds To Hide Purchase Of Surveillance Tech From City Reps (16)
10:39 Daily Deal: The Ultimate Microsoft Excel Training Bundle (0)
09:20 NY Senator Proposes Ridiculously Unconstitutional Social Media Law That Is The Mirror Opposite Of Equally Unconstitutional Laws In Florida & Texas (25)
06:12 Telecom Monopolies Are Exploiting Crappy U.S. Broadband Maps To Block Community Broadband Grant Requests (7)
12:00 Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of 2021 At Techdirt (17)
10:00 Gaming Like It's 1926: Join The Fourth Annual Public Domain Game Jam (6)
09:00 New Year's Message: The Arc Of The Moral Universe Is A Twisty Path (33)
19:39 DHS, ICE Begin Body Camera Pilot Program With Surprisingly Good Policies In Place (7)
15:29 Remembering Techdirt Contributors Sherwin And Elliot (1)
13:32 DC Metro PD's Powerful Review Panel Keeps Giving Bad Cops Their Jobs Back (6)
12:11 Missouri Governor Still Expects Journalists To Be Prosecuted For Showing How His Admin Leaked Teacher Social Security Numbers (39)
10:48 Oversight Board Overturning Instagram Takedown Of Ayahuasca Post Demonstrates The Impossibility Of Content Moderation (10)
More arrow
This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it