NEW YORK--Four months after a federal judge approved an $80 billion merger with Time Warner, AT&T has announced plans to launch a new direct-to-consumer streaming service in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to company president John Stankey.
The service is expected to be centered around WarnerMedia’s (the new name of the merged media division of AT&T), HBO and offer a selection of WarnerMedia-owned movies, TV series and documentaries, but it won’t replace the current HBO Now streaming service, Stankey added.
“We are committed to launching a compelling and competitive product that will serve as a complement to our existing businesses and help us to 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,” Stankey said. “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.”
The announcement is not a surprise, given that AT&T partly based its acquisition of Time Warner on the idea that it planned to enter the increasingly crowded OTT market dominated by Netflix, Amazon and Hulu and the proliferation of “skinny bundles,” lower-cost streaming packages designed to attract so-called “cord cutters.” Disney has announced plans to launch a streaming service and Apple is also planning on a new streaming service with original programming. Apple announced yesterday that it would make its original programming available for free to owners of Apple devices.
The federal government’s opposition to the merger was based on the idea that a telecommunications company owning a content company would violate antitrust laws. It has appealed the federal court’s June decision.