AT&T’s premier content subscription content service, DirecTV follows in the footsteps of Comcast and Verizon by adding an electronic sell-through option (EST) to their service. The EST option with DirecTV allows subscribers of their satellite television service to purchase movies and TV shows, often before new releases reach their rental windows.
However, the service does have one important caveat—you must be a current DirecTV subscriber to get access to your purchased titles. This means that even though you may have spent $20 on a new movie, if you leave DirecTV you will no longer have access to that title. Other companies, like Comcast have avoided these issues by allowing customers to access their content from services like Xfinity Stream, even if they are not a paid cable subscriber. Verizon has a similar policy in place where customers can access their content as long as they have an up-to-date Fios account login.
These competitor policies make it all the more surprising that DirecTV is now taking the opposite approach. They even addressed these subscription restrictions in an FAQ, saying “You will not be able to access your purchased movies if your account is not active, even if you return as a DIRECTV customer at a later date. You must maintain your DIRECTV account to view your purchased content”. The FAQ goes on to remind customers that DirecTV purchases are non-transferable, even if you are trying to transfer your services to another AT&T service like DirecTV Now.
During the first few weeks surrounding the initial launch of this service, purchased titles will only be available to watch on DirecTV Now receivers at home. However, DirecTV has made it clear that “…in the coming weeks, DirecTV customers will be able to purchase and download their favorite movies to watch on the go or online on laptops , tablets and smartphones”.
On the bright side, all DirecTV purchases are in HD, with select titles available in 4K. To help incentivize users to take advantage of the new service DirecTV is discounting the Lego Movie from $19.99 to $7.99 along with a few other various sale items.
The lack of transferable content is a blight on an otherwise fantastic looking service from DirecTV. Whether that blight will be enough to ruin the entire venture remains to be seen. For now, if you are looking to purchase movies or TV shows and are already a DirecTV customer, this is exciting news! If you are not yet a DirecTV customer the addition of EST services will likely not be enough to convince you to take the leap.