AT&T is going OTT.
The company will launch a direct-to-consumer streaming service in the fourth quarter of 2019, WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey said today.
“This is another benefit of the AT&T/Time Warner merger, and we are committed to launching a compelling and competitive product that will serve as a complement to our existing business and help us expand our reach by offering a new choice for entertainment with the WarnerMedia collection of films, television series, libraries, documentaries and animation loved by consumers around the world,” said Stankey in a statement.
He continued: “We expect to create such a compelling product that it will help distributors increase consumer penetration of their current packages and help us successfully reach more customers.”
AT&T is entering a very crowded field that already includes Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu, Showtime, Amazon and YouTube Premium. Disney is going to be rolling out its own eagerly anticipated OTT offering late next year, in the same timeframe as AT&T. Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger told investors in August that the service will be Disney’s “biggest priority” in 2019 and will be priced cheaper than Netflix. AT&T hasn’t revealed further pricing information or the name of the new offering.
Viacom has said it will launch a direct-to-consumer service later this year but hasn’t provided any specifics, while Discovery is also mulling its own OTT offering.
“Our service will start with HBO and the genre-defining programming that viewers crave. On top of that, we will package content from Turner and Warner Bros. with their deep brand connections that touch both diverse interests and mass audiences,” Stankey said in an internal memo, according to CNN.
Ever since AT&T completed its $85 billion Time Warner purchase in June, the company has been working to leverage its new content. Already, it has made plans to expand HBO’s programming budget and content output. In June, AT&T included its just-purchased Turner Networks in its new $15-per-month skinny bundle dubbed WatchTV, which is free for some AT&T wireless customers.
And AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson took a shot at his soon-to-be-streaming competitor Netflix last month, calling Netflix “the Walmart of subscription video” and HBO “the Tiffany of subscription video.”
It’s unclear how this new offering will affect DC Universe, the DC Comics-centric OTT offering from WarnerMedia, which launched last month.