The bottom line: AT&T U-verse has four TV packages to choose from with a selection of 140–550 channels. It uses a fiber optic network, which makes the service more reliable than satellite or cable TV. U-verse’s pricing is more competitive if you bundle it with Internet and/or phone service, but on its own, it’s priced higher than competing packages. We also found a few nonsense HD fees, and U-verse’s top DVR has a smaller storage capacity than most of the competition.
- More than 550 channels
- Fiber-optic network
- Higher regular rates
- Separate HD fees
- Below average DVRs
Heads up: AT&T U-verse is not available nationwide, so before you continue reading use our ZIP finder to see if AT&T U-verse is available near you.
AT&T U-verse pricing
Beware of high pricing and strange fees.
|Packages||1st yr. pricing||Regular pricing|
What’s the real price?
U-verse packages are listed at one-year promotional prices, and though those prices are lower than regular rates, they’re still pretty high. For example, the U-family package starts at $50 per month, which is not very competitive and only lasts a year. The U-family regular rate is even higher ($93 per month), but by the time that price kicks in, you would be out of the one-year contract, so it wouldn’t make sense to pay the regular rate. In other words, you could just cancel your service or enter another contract to continue getting the promotional price.
The biggest reason for the high promotional price and even higher regular rate: AT&T wants to sell you a “bundle.” You can get U-verse standalone TV service, but AT&T pushes you to bundle it with Internet and/or phone service. If you do add Internet or phone service (or both), you’ll pay a lower price for TV service, technically. If you see AT&T advertising lower prices than what’s listed here, it’s because you’re seeing the bundle price and not the standalone price.
There’s a one-time activation fee of $49 for each U-verse TV package. In the many conversations we had with AT&T representatives (while posing as customers), every agent offered to waive this fee for us. We’d be willing to bet you can talk your way out of the fee as well, regardless of what level of service you’re pursuing.
If you want to connect multiple TVs, you’ll need to pay for a receiver ($9 a month), and you’ll need one for each additional TV—the same with most TV services.
As for other fees, U-verse is a little unusual. There’s no monthly DVR fee, which is great (the DVR isn’t), but it could just be another reason package prices are so high. We also find it odd that there’s a separate HD fee ($10 a month) and HD sports fee ($7 a month), so you’re looking at an additional $17 a month to get sports channels in high definition.
AT&T U-verse packages
Packages are comparable to other TV services, except when it comes to pricing.
|U-family||140+||1 yr. minimum|
AT&T “U-family” package
Not as much selection as you think, but it has family channels.
The U-family package has more than 140 channels, and it includes such family favorites as Disney and Nickelodeon. Though 140 channels sounds like a lot, some channels are fairly obscure, such as the Eternal World Television Network and Jewelry Television.
It’s worth pointing out that approximately one-third of the 140+ channels offered as part of U-family are Stingray music channels—essentially radio stations that broadcast through your TV. We find the labeling of these as “channels” a bit deceiving, although having easy access to such a variety of radio stations will be convenient for some. AT&T’s entry-level Total Home DVR is included with the U-family package. (See the “Equipment” section below for more information on AT&T’s DVRs.)
Notable channels: Animal Planet, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, Food Network.
AT&T U-verse “U200” package
Has most of the popular cable channels.
U200’s channel count jumps up to over 300 (yes, the name has no relation to the actual number of channels). Some more popular channels make their U-verse debut at the U200 level, such as ESPN, TNT, and USA Network, as well as a wider variety of international channels. U200 also comes with the entry-level Total Home DVR. With 300+ channels and a DVR, this package should be enough for the average TV viewer.
Notable channels: BBC America, Sundance TV, TCM, WE TV.
AT&T U-verse “U300” package
A better DVR, and you get more sports and movies.
U300 boosts the channel count to over 470, which gives you some more desirable options. The included channel selection ranges from the very specific (like the second alternate Fox Sports Southeast channel) to the very obscure (such as Pivot, DoSomething, and JUCE, among many more). Showtime, Starz, and other channels that would normally cost extra are included in the U300 package, as is AT&T’s upgraded Total Home DVR.
Notable channels: Starz, Encore, Showtime, The Movie Channel.
AT&T U-verse “U450” package
If you have to have everything, this is it.
The top-shelf U-verse service is U450, and as far as content goes, it leaves very little to be desired. U450 offers a range of over 550 channels, and unlike the lesser offerings, the HD version of every mainstream channel is included in the price. Many of the so-called “Premium Add-On” channels that are available at all levels of U-verse, such as HBO2 and beIN Sports, are included as part of the package.
Notable channels: HBO2, LRW, BEIN Sports, Cinemax.
AT&T U-verse channel offerings
Channel selection is competitive, but you still won’t find NFL SUNDAY TICKET.
NFL fans will notice the lack of the NFL SUNDAY TICKET as a programming option. The NFL SUNDAY TICKET remains exclusive to DIRECTV, but now that AT&T and DIRECTV have merged (more on this later), we’re not sure if things will change.
Still, the NFL Network, RedZone, and other football channels are offered, which may be enough for most football fans. You also have access to the NBA League Pass, as well as comparable options for MLB and NHL broadcasting—not to mention plenty of soccer and other more “global” sports interest channels.
International offerings and more
From Chinese business news to Central American sports outlets to Russian programming packages, U-verse seems to offer a bit of everything for everyone. There’s also a particularly large variety of channels offered for Spanish-speaking customers, many of which are included starting with the U-family package.
What’s in HD?
U-verse says it has over 225 channels available in HD, but you’ll only get that number with the U450 package and the HD Premium Tier ($7 a month). If you want to know how many HD channels are in the other packages, you can ask a representative (it will also depend on your area).
Online channel guide
U-verse offers an abundance of channels, so check out the link below to get a clearer idea of whether or not they offer what you’re after. AT&T U-VERSE CHANNEL GUIDE
AT&T U-verse equipment and features
Two DVRs with the same name and basic features.
Picking an AT&T U-verse DVR
U-verse offers two DVR units both called the “Total Home DVR.” One is basic, the other is advanced, and for some reason they have the same name.
The Basic Total Home DVR lets you watch or record up to four programs simultaneously, and it can record 233 hours of standard-definition (SD) programming or 65 hours of high definition (HD). However, only two of the four channels being watched or recorded simultaneously can be HD.
The Advanced Total Home DVR has a higher recording capacity (155 hours in HD, 422 in SD) and is available only with the U300 and U450 package. Up to eight channels can be watched or recorded at once—up to four of them in HD simultaneously.
With both DVRs, live TV can be paused or rewound up to five minutes. You can also move into a different room in your house, turn on another TV or mobile device, and pick up the program where you last left off. All the expected DVR functions are available with either Total Home DVR, including programmable recording schedules, a scrollable, in-depth channel guide, and access to mobile apps.
|Product||Recording capacity||Storage||Simultaneous recording|
|Basic Total Home DVR||65 HD/233 SD||N/A*||2 channels|
|Advanced Total Home DVR||155 HD/422SD||N/A*||4 channels|
*AT&T does not list storage capacity for DVRs. HD = High Definition, SD = Standard Definition
Apps and more apps
The U-verse App is like most other TV apps: you can watch live TV and On Demand titles, manage the DVR, and turn your phone into a remote control. However, unlike Comcast, DISH, and DIRECTV’s apps, you can’t download shows. So if you’re without an Internet connection, you’re out of luck.
U-verse also offers a handful of additional apps, like the BuddyTV app (provides recommendations), but we question their value. For example, the U-verse Easy Remote is its own app. Why not make it a feature of the the U-verse App and not a separate app that you have to download and store on your device? Same can be said of the MyAT&T App (for account information), the AT&T Troubleshoot & Resolve App, and the U-verse Pix & Flix app (see photos from your phone on TV), and more. There’s even a dedicated app to sharing what you watch on TV: the U-Verse Social… and that’s all it does.
AT&T U-verse customer service
We don’t expect much from customer service, and that’s what we got.
We’re not going to blow anyone’s mind with the suggestion that customer service for a telecommunications company is subpar. AT&T’s U-verse meets the same very, very low standards as virtually all of its competitors. In fairness, things could arguably be worse.
U-verse scored a 69 (out of 100) on the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s 2015 survey of over 14,000 customers. The average score for national and regional television service providers was 71 (the lowest average of all 11 industries that the ACSI surveys). Following AT&T’s merger with DIRECTV, the company’s managers promised to address this, but we won’t hold our breath.
We did call and chat online with AT&T representatives, posing as potential new customers. Representatives took nearly every question we asked as a prompt to launch into a litany of features offered by U-verse, and they rarely addressed our actual questions.
To avoid the hassle, we recommend using the chat feature on AT&T U-verse’s website. Wait times are short, and you can have the conversation e-mailed to you after it’s finished for your own records—very handy should there be a dispute of claims down the road.
If you just want TV service, you’re better off going somewhere else.
It doesn’t make sense to go with U-verse if you’re only looking for TV service. Bundling may be a different story, but with U-verse’s high pricing and subpar DVRs, you can get more value from other TV service providers.
What about the AT&T/DIRECTV merger?
In 2015, AT&T purchased DIRECTV to become the nation’s largest TV service provider, but so far, not much has changed: AT&T and DIRECTV still offer separate TV packages; the NFL SUNDAY TICKET is only on DIRECTV; and the PAC-12 Network is still not on DIRECTV. However, if you happen to have AT&T wireless and are interested in purchasing DIRECTV, you might qualify for a $10/mo discount. That’s about it.
We’re interested to see if the merger will have an effect on customer satisfaction ratings, but it’s still too early to tell. According to the ASCI, customer satisfaction usually takes a hit after a merger, so we’ll see what happens.
If any changes do occur with AT&T or DIRECTV, we’ll update our site.