I’ve been a U-Verse customer for several years now at the U200 HD level from day one. When I first signed up I was excited to take advantage of the offering to offset a receiver rental fee of $7 per month by leveraging my Xbox 360 as an IPTV receiver. The Cisco set-top boxes AT&T provides with their service run Microsoft’s former Mediaroom package. This could be loaded as an application into an Xbox 360 with a disc that AT&T would provide to you for a one-time fee of $99. This did not include installation, which to this day I find laughable, as the tech simply put the disc into my Xbox and loaded it, insuring the plan on the back-end provisioned properly the fact that I was using the Xbox 360 as a receiver on my account. Hardly worth the ~$50 they charged for that installation.
Considering that I saved $7 per month for the better part of 2.5 years I was easily offsetting the investment I made in the installation and service fees associated with lighting the Xbox 360 as a receiver in the early days of my service with AT&T. Even considering the ~$150 I spent to set it up in the first place I was still up $60 in that time period. I was not bothered by the requirement they added to have an Xbox Live Gold subscription because I already used that for things like Xbox/Zune Music and online multiplayer gaming.
Trouble on the Horizon
When I learned that Microsoft was unloading Mediaroom in April of this year I got nervous. I knew that AT&T was an early adopter of Microsoft’s technology and had heard rumblings that they were delaying already planned updates to the U-Verse stack that promised Kinect integration and more.
The Death Knell
I was none too thrilled when I received the following email this week.
This brings me one step closer to pulling the plug like so many others I know are doing with their TV service. AT&T took what was one of the differantors of their service, that I’m sure I and others enjoyed using, and with it eliminated one of their competitive advantages. A list of advantages which gets shorter all the time with competition from Aereo, Netflix, Amazon Video, Redbox, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, and others gaining momentum.
Too Little, too Late?
I was hoping, like several others, that the Xbox One would have a stronger partnership with more TV providers, like AT&T, day one and not have to rely on the IR repeaters to perform many of the functions it executes in its current state. Perhaps the clock hasn’t completely run out for AT&T and others, but they need to move quickly in the face of more competition to remain relevant. If Microsoft can deliver the Kinect integration and seamless experience people are looking for when they want to consume content then they will pay for it. Do it in a model that preserves some of your revenue stream before you lose all of it.