A week after closing its deal to acquire Time Warner, AT&T unveiled a new video service called WatchTV that seeks to capture the millions of consumers who’ve severed the pay TV cord — or never subscribed in the first place.
The skinny bundle of programming will be available for as little as $15 a month, and offered free to AT&T customers with certain unlimited data plans.
WatchTV will offer a bundle of some 30 television channels, including newly acquired CNN, TNT and TBS, as well as channels from AMC Networks, Discovery Communications and Viacom. The service launches next week, with the introduction of two new unlimited mobile service plans, AT&T Unlimited &More and AT&T Unlimited & More Premium.
CEO Randall Stephenson announced AT&T’s plans to offer a free “skinny bundle” TV service to subscribers in testimony during the just-completed antitrust trial. He described it as one consumer benefit of combining the telecommunications giant with one of Hollywood’s premiere film and television studios.
At the time, BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield once said such skinny bundle TV services, which are stripped of sports programming, will be “horrifying to sports network owners” like ESPN.
WatchTV is one of the first fruits of Stephenson’s vision of combining content and wireless connectivity; and it’s part of AT&T’s efforts to grow its business at a time of intensifying competition among wireless carriers and a declining pay TV subscribers.
AT&T is contemplating other ways to package entertainment, with AT&Ts’ John Donovan telling an investor conference the company would introduce more robust versions of DirecTV to be delivered via the internet rather than satellite.
With WatchTV, subscribers to AT&T’s Premium service will get 30 channels of live TV, 15,000 TV shows and movies on demand and the option to add one f several premium services — either HBO, Showtime, Starz or a music streaming service like Amazon Music or Pandora Premium — for no extra charge. Anime/tech/gaming fans can choose VRV as your option.
Pricing for the AT&T Unlimited &More Premium service starts at $80 a month for a single phone line.
The AT&T Unlimited &More plan starts at $70 a month and includes the basic WatchTV service.