AT&T to Roll Out Three Tiers of Streaming Service Next Year

AT&T announced it plans to introduce three tiers of a new streaming video service to launch in beta by the fourth quarter of 2019, although pricing and details have yet to be revealed. The WarnerMedia service, intended to take on Netflix and other streaming competitors, will offer movies and TV shows from Warner Bros., Turner and HBO. In the future, the unnamed service is expected to feature licensed content from additional media companies. The venture is part of AT&T’s larger plans to pursue areas outside of its core businesses following the company’s acquisition of Time Warner.

“Chief executive Randall Stephenson said Thursday that his collection of cellphone, Internet and media businesses will generate $26 billion of free cash flow next year, allowing the company to uphold its generous dividend as it chips away at an unprecedented debt load,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

“If you’re a media company, you can no longer rely exclusively on wholesale distribution models,” Stephenson said. “You must develop a direct relationship with your viewers. And if you’re a communications company, you can no longer rely exclusively on oversized bundles of content.”

“WarnerMedia plans an entry-level streaming service focused on movies, a second tier with original programming and more films and a bundle tier with content from the first two plus classic films, comedy and children’s programming,” notes WSJ. “WarnerMedia chief John Stankey said the bundles would grow over time to include content licensed from other media companies.”

Stankey also explained that many WarnerMedia movies and television series will be pulled from other libraries in the coming months. The industry is on the cusp of some potentially significant changes that could affect services offered by the likes of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and others. “Disney [is] gearing up for its own OTT milestone in 2019,” adds Deadline.