CenturyLink could offer streaming TV, but it might just offer DirecTV Now instead

Why it matters to you

More competition in the live TV streaming service could mean better service for everyone.

As more people cut the cord and move to options like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, companies are starting to take notice. One of these companies is CenturyLink, which is currently in the middle of testing its own over-the-top (OTT) streaming service in four markets, according to MultiChannel News.

This service is meant to operate as a replacement for its Prism IPTV service, which the company says it is beginning to “de-emphasize” — or in plainer words, eventually shut down. The OTT offering features a slimmed-down set of channels, but does include local channels, and CenturyLink CEO Glen Post says that network DVR functionality, similar to that offered by PlayStation Vue and currently in beta for Sling TV customers, is planned for the service as well.

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“Our trials are getting really strong reviews right now,” Post said in a company earnings call earlier this week. Whether the service will be tested in more markets before an official rollout hasn’t been specified, but CenturyLink plans to begin offering its OTT service in the second quarter of 2017.

Despite the trials reportedly going well, there is still another possibility that CenturyLink could offer as an alternative to Prism. At a conference for investors last yet, the company’s chief financial officer Stewart Ewing seemed to float the possibility that CenturyLink may be interested in reselling AT&T’s DirecTV Now service instead of offering its own.

“We’re looking at every option,” Post said in response to an analyst asking whether the DirecTV Now route was still a possibility, adding “we’d certainly take a look at that. We are talking to all the service providers, looking at every possibility there.”

More: Despite its problems, DirecTV Now topped 200K subscribers in its first month

While either option could present a problem for existing services like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, as well as not-yet-launched services from Hulu and YouTube, CenturyLink doesn’t seem to be intent on dominating the market, at least not yet. Post said that CenturyLink doesn’t view streaming as a “significant revenue opportunity” in 2017, but added that it does think this option could become much more significant in the years ahead.

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