Those who follow the streaming space might be wondering about what exactly AT&T is doing with their streaming services. After all, they already have HBO Now and DirectTV Now, and now they are launching a third: WarnerMedia.
This newly announced service comes in the wake of the AT&T/Time Warner merger. While details are scarce, we do know that the service will be separate from DirecTV Now and will center around HBO.
What exactly does all that mean? We don’t know yet, but AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson spoke with The Verge about their new plans. Stephenson said that they are planning to demonstrate the service in October or September of this year. The service will be “…centered on HBO and significantly enhanced by the Warner Bros. library, which is a very, very deep and prolific library,” said Stephenson. The CEO also hinted that their announcement will include a more specific timeline and prices.
The response has not been as positive as AT&T probably hoped. The streaming market is already oversaturated. Within the last few months we’ve learned of two more major players looking to get into the space: Disney and Apple. If AT&T truly wants to compete in an already crowded market they are going to have to bring something unique (and affordable) to the table.
According to Stephenson, “You’ll be able to formulate your own opinion in September or October about what we’ll be bringing to bear. In terms of premium content, think about the HBO brand…In terms of breadth of content, consider the Warner Bros. library and the depth of that library — the new original content creation machine at Warner Bros., which is really an impressive, scaled machine in terms of producing theatrical as well as TV productions. We’re actually quite optimistic.”
AT&T has made it clear that this service will not interfere with DirecTV Now, but one has to wonder what resources have been diverted to making WarnerMedia a success. While DirecTV Now still boasts millions of customers, they have been bleeding subscribers for months. WarnerMedia might not be intentionally competing with the service, but it may turn out to be the a nail in the DirecTV Now coffin anyway. Time will tell.
The key to competing in today’s streaming market is original content. That could be a big hurdle for WarnerMedia, but being able to offer HBO is not a factor that should be underestimated. Of course, by the time this service comes out HBO’s star show Game of Thrones will already have ended.
More streaming options is great news for consumers, but it is unlikely that all of these services will be able to thrive in an already overcrowded market. The inclusion of HBO is a big deal and could help propel WarnerMedia to the top, but lack of original content is going to be a major issue. AT&T seems confident but we’ll have to wait until more details come out before we make our judgement.