Days after buying Time Warner, AT&T launches new TV service


Associated Press

NEW YORK

AT&T is launching a new streaming service incorporating television networks from the Time Warner company it just bought.

The WatchTV service, a cable-like package of more than 30 TV channels delivered over the internet, is an example of the “skinny bundles” coming from telecom and broadband providers as more people watch TV online. Competitors include Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and AT&T’s own DirecTV Now.

WatchTV will be free for subscribers of two unlimited wireless plans AT&T is launching. Others can get WatchTV for $15 – $20 less than DirecTV Now, but with just half the channels.

Thursday’s announcement comes just days after AT&T closed its $81 billion Time Warner deal. AT&T said it needs to combine its distribution channels with entertainment properties to compete with internet-based rivals such as Amazon, Netflix and Google, although the wireless carrier has a direct connection to its 92 million subscribers that its internet rivals do not. The Department of Justice sued to block the Time Warner deal on anti-competition concerns, but a federal judge sided with AT&T.

WatchTV is the first example of how AT&T plans to marry distribution and programming from Time Warner. If it gets enough subscribers, it will be able to collect valuable data and offer more personalized content – and ads.

But with people paying for a growing number of services such as HBO, Hulu, Netflix and DirectTV Now, streaming can end up being just as expensive as cable, if not more so.

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