T-Mobile offers year of DirecTV Now to users who switch from AT&T

“AT&T wants you to think DirecTV is theirs exclusively, but that’s a load of crap,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere said.

T-Mobile is targeting AT&T customers by offering a free year of basic DirecTV Now service to users who switch and activate two lines of service.

The nation’s third-largest carrier hopes to co-opt the video service by giving a $35 monthly bill credit for as much as 12 months to AT&T customers, covering the entry-level cost for AT&T’s OTT video service. AT&T launched DirecTV Now last month after acquiring the satellite TV service provider in 2015 for $48.5 billion.

“AT&T wants you to think DirecTV is theirs exclusively, but that’s a load of crap,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in a prepared statement. “AT&T is so distracted by their new businesses and DirecTV that they continue to ignore their 110 million wireless customers.”

Like some other T-Mobile video offerings, its DirecTV service will be streamed at 480p to lighten the load on the network. T-Mobile also added DirecTV Now to its zero-rated Binge On service, enabling customers to watch video without incurring mobile data charges.

AT&T also enables its wireless customers to view DirecTV Now without taking a hit to their monthly data allotments. Zero-rated content has become a key strategy for wireless carriers over the last year, but the model has drawn flak from critics who claim it violates net neutrality principles.

T-Mobile’s new campaign once again underscores its tactic of leveraging mobile video to attract new customers rather than monetizing the content directly. Mobile video consumption is clearly on the rise, but whether carriers can tap that trend and generate real revenues is far from clear. T-Mobile successfully used mobile video through its popular Binge On offering, but carrier-backed mobile video efforts have generally been dismal failures, as CCS Insight noted last month.

“Mobile television is not particularly new, but in Europe and the U.S., it has had more stops than starts,” Raghu Gopal of CCS wrote last month. “Services have emerged based on specifications, such as MediaFlo, DVB-H and LTE Broadcast, but market interest has been soft, often caused by limited content choice and immature technologies and devices.”