In July of 2015, AT&T acquired DirecTV in one of the largest mergers in America’s history. Ever since then, AT&T has been stuck between a rock and hard place with its two cable providers: DirecTV vs U-verse… and it’s pretty clear that DirecTV is the favorite child.
Is U-verse likely to be sticking around for a while? Probably not. Considering AT&T U-verse’s online reviews, and AT&T’s lack of action when it comes to U-verse’s immense lack of reliability, there’s little reason for anyone to believe it would get any better.
Still, there is some value to be had with this service. As such, you may be asking yourself –”Is U-verse worth it in the meantime?” You’re about to find out.
The Future of AT&T’s U-verse
Do you remember how we said U-Verse’s future looked bleak? Well, a big reason for that is that, since acquiring DirecTV, AT&T has launched two different streaming services: DirecTV Now and WatchTV, which comes packaged with AT&T’s unlimited phone plans.
Pair that with the fact that AT&T’s own website declares that video will make up more than 75% of their traffic by 2022 and it’s not hard to imagine that the rumors from employees about them running their TV services through their 5G towers are true.
DirecTV NOW looks like it might be AT&T’s future, but since they aren’t pushing it too much, questions have risen as to if they’ll launch yet another service to further monopolize the TV market. It doesn’t help that there is zero indication they will be adding 4K features to any of their U-verse packages.
AT&T U-verse Packages and Pricing
All things considered, U-verse’s prices are stellar, especially knowing that it has just as many channels as many more deluxe services. However, just like most TV providers, U-verse costs inflate a substantial amount after the first year, as seen in the table below.
The good news: you are only signing a one-year contract. Yes, that’s right. Although the prices are doubled for half the packages after the first year, customers do have the freedom to call and negotiate lower prices or to pursue a better deal elsewhere. Weird, right?
If you opt for autopay and paperless billing, you will save $5 per month.
Of course, these aren’t the only prices consumers need to worry about– as any angry customer’s U-verse review could tell you.
- Installation Fee. $200. One-time fee. Due up front. Might only apply to U-Basic Package? It’s hard to tell from the wording on their site.
- Activation Fee. $35. One-time fee. Due up front.
- Broadcast Fee. $10 per month for U-Basic. $7.99 per month for other plans.
- Extra Receivers. $10 more per month for each extra receiver.
- Cancellation Fee. $15 per month left on your contract. So, if you cancel with 3 months left, you’d have to pay up $45.
AT&T U-verse channel lineup
|Channels included||AT&T U-verse Front Row, AT&T U-verse Movies (x6), Audience Network HD (x4), Bathrwraps Revision (x2), Crepe Erase (x2), DVRAPP, GENENTVODAPP (x2), Keranique (x2), Kids HD Multiview, Kids Multiview, KIDSVODAPP (x3), LifeLock (x2), Live Event CTO (x6), Live Event CTO II (x6), Local channels, Luminess (x2), Movie Sponsored (x4), News HD Multiview, News Multiview||Locals Channels, and: Animal Planet, Bloomberg, Boomerang, Disney, DIY, Food Network, HISTORY, HGTV, Home Shopping, National Geographic, Nick Jr, Nickelodeon, QVC, Science, TBN, Teen Nick, The Weather Channel||Everything from the U-Family plan, and: ABC Family (Now known as Freeform), ABC News Now, AMC, BBC, Cartoon Network, Chiller, CNN, Comedy Central, Cooking Channel, Crime & Investigation, E!, ESPN (4 variations), Fox, FX, Golf, GSN, Lifetime, Logo, MSNBC, MTV (3 variations), Nat Geo WILD, NBC Sports, NFL, OWN, Spike, Syfy, TBS, TNT, Travel, TV Land||Everything from the previous plans, and: CNBC World, CNN International, Encore (9 variations), FOX Business +Movie, ION, MLB, MTV Jams, NASA, NBA, Ovation, Showtime (13 Variations), Sprout, Starz (10 variations), The Movie Channel (4 variations)||Everything from the previous plans, and: Cinemax, HBO (14 variations), MAX channels (9 variations), Lifetime, Real Women|
After seeing what each U-verse package contains, we can’t help but remember that in October of 2016, AT&T agreed to buy Time Warner. While this merger has been rife with the government trying to break up what is essentially a monopoly, one can’t help but wonder why AT&T isn’t lowering their prices to account for the fact that they now don’t have to dole out money to Time Warner to use some of these channels, such as HBO, truTV, and Cartoon Network? Are they using their monopoly to steer the public toward their preferred service?
|HBO, SHOWTIME, Cinemax, STARZ, EPIX||$8-$20/mo.*|
U-verse’s U-300 package has all the premiums – except HBO and CINEMAX. Why? Not entirely sure. Their add-on versions of those two aren’t exceptional, either: $26 bucks a month to grab ‘em. However, that’s still better than either HBO or CINEMAX as standalone streaming services ($15/month apiece).
|ESPN, MLB Network, NFL Network, SEC Network, NBA League Pass, ESPN Deportes, Big Ten Network, Fox College Sports, Fox Soccer Plus, CBS Sports Network, and more||$10/mo.*|
Although U-verse seems to have an ample array of sports, most of them are not included in the base package. The U-200 ($60) package is required for the majority of sports, but unlike DirecTV, U-verse includes Pac-12!
I know many of you are wondering, and no. NFL Sunday Ticket is not available on U-verse TV. Hopefully, the Pac-12 addition makes up for the loss!
|Disney Channel on demand, Disney Family Movies, and more||$4.99/mo.*|
U-verse doesn’t offer movie packages per se, but they do offer On Demand content – from free TV to rentals of movies, shows, and sports. It kicks off at $4.99 a month, which isn’t too bad as things go.
Which Should I Pick?
We’d highly recommend U-200 at the minimum. For family TV, it has the best of everything and something for everyone in your household to watch.
This all depends on what you watch. If you want it for the whole family, we’d highly recommend U-200 at the minimum. For family TV, it has the best of everything and something for everyone in your household to watch. The next package up introduces many movie and premium channels that households just don’t watch.
If the people in your home are people who prefer movies and premium channels, it all depends on which ones you watch. If you’d rather watch Encore, Showtime, and Starz, you’re stuck and are kind of forced to move up to the U300 package. However, If all you watch HBO and Cinemax, choose whichever of the three lower packages you’d like and tack HBO and Cinemax right on top!
The $50 price jump between U300 and U400 is atrocious and completely unnecessary. You can get 3 months free of these two channels on any package and then go on to pay a fair price of $26 after the deal has expired.
If all you care about is HBO, there’s no need to get it in your TV package. The streaming service is only $15.
AT&T U-verse Equipment and Features
Total Home DVR
The U-verse DVR options, called Total Home DVR, isn’t bad: you can record up to 4 shows at once, with up to 165 hours of HD storage capacity on the top end. The bottom end of things gives you around 37 HD hours, though – not great.
In either case, the Total Home DVR isn’t even in the same neighborhood as DISH’s Hopper 3 or DIRECTV’s Genie. But the Total Home DVR gives you double the simultaneous-recording-capacity as the Hopper DUO and more than Cox’s standard DVR – so if you don’t need the super-sized power of the Hopper 3 or Genie, U-verse will suit most people just fine.
Just expect to have to delete recordings to make up some space periodically.
Fiber-Optic and Coaxial Cable Delivery
U-verse doesn’t stick with just one method or the other to get your TV channels to you: they use combinations. Most cable TV providers (think: Xfinity) utilize the old-style copper coaxial cables; or, as with Verizon Fios TV use fiber-optic cables to shoot your favorite networks into your TV.
U-verse uses both: pure fiber-optic or a mix of coaxial and fiber-optic in hybrid form.
This just means you’ll probably notice clean, smooth service – but it doesn’t mean you get 4K. No 4K for you!
U-verse’s mobile app is solid: it works as a remote control. You can do anything and everything you can with your regular remote, plus setup your DVR to record your favorite shows. And (of course) you can watch live TV and your recordings on the go.
But even better? If your phone is through AT&T’s cellular service, you can stream TV and recordings data-free. That’s right: streaming shows live or on demand from U-verse doesn’t count against your data. Sweet.
Recap: How good is U-verse?
- Inexpensive. Well for the first year at least, but even so, fees add up! If you’re with a cable company, almost every provider have fairly significant price jumps after the first year is over. Prices are fantastic in side-by-side comparisons.
- 1-year contract. Although it seems like a while, it’s half as long as other services, such as DirecTV, Cox, and Dish. That’s right. They require 2 years and raise your rates after the first year while you’re still locked into a contract! At least U-verse gives you the freedom to wander as you please when prices increase.
- U-verse app. People always have their phone on them and always lose their remote. Plain and simple.
- Subpar selection. Although the prices are stellar, what good is 200 channels if all your kids have to watch are channels nobody’s ever heard of? Not only will you be missing out on Cartoon Network and Sprout with their base package, but you’ll also be missing out on other favorites like the ABC Family and the Cooking Channel. Ridiculous? We think so.
- Uncertain future. We’ve presented multiple reasons to believe U-verse has a grim fate coming its way in the near future. As such, you may be putting yourself in a sticky situation.
- Availability. If you plan on moving in the near future, then good luck moving to another state that includes it. Moving is a big enough pain without having to pay out a contract you’re breaking.
- DirecTV – Better service, better channels, similar cost
- DirecTV Now – Better or worse channels depending on taste, streaming service, slightly cheaper without fees and contract
- Cox – Better service, minimal channels, comparable cost for the first year, same or higher prices second year
- Dish – Comparable service, comparable channel numbers, higher cost
- Streaming services – Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, Etc.
- Specific channel apps – Cartoon Network, AMC, CBS, HBO, Etc.
All-in-all, after extensive research and reading many U-verse reviews, the best thing we can say about the service is that it has potential that’ll likely never be met. The same prices can get you better, more reliable service, selection, and equipment… and that’s just from AT&T’s other service: DirecTV. In fact, in the battle between U-verse vs DirecTV, it’s not even super close.
With AT&T seemingly placing little faith (or effort) into U-verse, we see no reason to choose this as your provider when so many better options are out there. If you wind up going for it anyway, ask about a $100-$200 Visa gift card when signing up for service.
Thanks for tuning in!