Sat, Dec 01, 2018 - Page 10 News List

AT&T plans three options in video streaming war

Bloomberg

AT&T Inc is putting its new Time Warner arsenal of media properties to work, rolling out not one, but three streaming video services to compete with Netflix Inc.

One of the new products is a movies-only plan that should launch late next year, the company said on Thursday. Another is to have original programming, as well as blockbuster films, while the highest-priced choice is to include content licensed from other companies.

AT&T should have plenty of competition. Walt Disney Co is introducing an online service with Star Wars and Marvel shows at about the same time, and Jeffrey Katzenberg has a new short-form video project in the works.

AT&T chief executive officer Randall Stephenson has to find new ways to retain TV viewers: His DirecTV Now online streaming service is going to lose subscribers this quarter and next, AT&T said.

The telecom giant provided the latest details as part of a presentation to analysts and investors, who are looking for signs that the company can get a payoff from its US$85 billion Time Warner deal.

In September, Stephenson said he planned to use Time Warner’s HBO as the anchor for the new online video service and surround it with Warner Bros shows and films — and possibly sports programming.

During a question-and-answer session with analysts, John Stankey, chief executive officer of AT&T’s WarnerMedia division, tried to allay concerns that the company’s various video options would confuse customers.

In addition to the upcoming streaming service, the company has multiple tiers of DirecTV Now.

To narrow its focus, WarnerMedia — the new name of Time Warner — has already started to reduce the number of niche consumer subscription services, such as FilmStruck.

The company is moving toward a more “unified library” of content, Stankey said.

This centralized system is to help serve the upcoming video-on-demand service and play an important role in beefing up the DirecTV Now offerings.

Stankey also said that rival video-on-demand services like Netflix and Amazon are facing shorter-length content licenses — in other words, their shows and movies would not be locked down for as long. As they lose the rights to well-known entertainment properties, they are in a race to create more original content.

AT&T faces less of that pressure, because it now owns the media libraries of Turner, HBO and Warner Bros, Stankey said.

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