With the ink barely dry on its $85 billion purchase of Time Warner, AT&T is set to launch a new video streaming service next week. Coming to smartphones, Apple TV, Roku, and a variety of other platforms, WatchTV will offer 30 live streaming channels and nearly 15,000 TV shows and movies on demand.
Subscribers to AT&T’s new data plans, Unlimited & More and Unlimited & More Premium, will receive WatchTV for free as part of a bundle package. The two new plans replace existing AT&T unlimited plans.
Per a USA Today report, current unlimited data customers can opt to keep their current plan but will have to shell out an additional $15 a month for WatchTV. Anyone who is not an AT&T wireless customer can also get WatchTV for the same monthly price.
According to CNET, AT&T’s Unlimited & More plan will start at $70 for one line, while a four-line deal is $160. Under this deal, a subscriber also gets a $15 credit toward DirecTV Now, a streaming TV service normally priced at $35 a month.
One line under the upgraded Premium plan starts at $80 and four lines will cost $190. Subscribers will get WatchTV plus the choice of one add-on like HBO, Showtime, Starz, or even Amazon Music. Users also get a $15 credit toward DirecTV Now, U-Verse TV, or 15 gigabits of mobile hotspot service.
— CNET (@CNET) June 23, 2018
While WatchTV does include many Time Warner-owned channels like CNN, TBS, and TNT, it does not have a major sports network, such as ESPN. Nonetheless, according to AT&T, sports will be available on TNT and TBS without blackouts to subscribers.
“Our goal is to completely change how content is created, distributed and consumed, and this [WatchTV offering] is really the first step of many steps,” said David Christopher, the president of AT&T Mobility and Entertainment, as cited by USA Today. “What we’re doing is creating a portfolio of ‘good, better, best’ that aligns with what different customers care about.”
AT&T has been working behind the scenes developing WatchTV for quite some time. However, the communications giant was waiting for the Time Warner deal to get regulatory approval before unleashing it to the public.
When AT&T first announced it was in negotiations to purchase Time Warner, the federal government sued under antitrust laws to stop the megamerger. Last week, a federal judge ruled in AT&T’s favor, essentially dealing a major blow to the government’s case and opening the door to other similar buyouts.
Offering bundled TV services is not exactly new. Other wireless carriers have created unlimited data deals to include HBO, Hulu, and Netflix to customers. WatchTV is just the latest manifestation included in AT&T’s unlimited data plans designed not so much to attract customers with price, but with better value and more entertainment options.