Oct 10, 2018 - Economy

AT&T to launch a Netflix competitor late 2019

Photo by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AT&T will launch a new direct-to-consumer streaming service in late 2019 that will offer a collection of "WarnerMedia" (formerly Time Warner) content, the company wrote in a regulatory filing Wednesday.

Why it matters: The product will help AT&T accrue more customers while also capturing more of their current Pay-TV and skinny bundle customers' time, attention and dollars.

"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."
— AT&T in its October 10 8-K filing

The details: The service will include content from WarnerMedia brands, starting with HBO and other Time Warner content. AT&T says it will feature films, TV series, libraries, documentaries and animation.

  • In a memo to staff obtained by CNN, WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey says the service will build off of HBO's programming and will package in other Time Warner content on top of that.
  • HBO already has a digital-only streaming service, HBO Now, which has over 5 million subscribers. Tens of millions of people have access to HBO digitally, but get that access for free through their HBO cable subscriptions.

AT&T says it will finance the launch through "incremental efficiencies" within the WarnerMedia operations (likely pulling resources from some less popular WarnerMedia brands), consolidating resources from smaller direct-to-consumer efforts (like their cartoon streaming service "Boomerang") and reusing existing technology.

The bigger picture: AT&T's new service will compete with other subscription video on-demand (SVOD) services, like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and Disney's direct-to-consumer service that's slated to arrive next year.

Data: Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, Axios; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: AmazonNetflix, Hulu, Axios; Chart: Axios Visuals

Be smart: AT&T has a long way to go in catching up to some of the streaming giants that have captured large North American audiences, and are beginning to grow abroad.

Our thought bubble: If AT&T is able to build a streaming service that can compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon, it too might be able to penetrate markets abroad with its media content.

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