AT&T to launch streaming service with shows from HBO, Turner, Warner Bros

Enlarge / It's time to launch another streaming service!

According to a CNN report WarnerMedia plans to launch its own streaming service in the fourth quarter of 2019, adding to the growing list of OTT (over-the-top) services that bypass providers of cable and transmit TV series and movies directly to viewers, most for a monthly fee.

The organization (formerly Time Warner) brings together several television content networks, including HBO, Turner and Warner Bros. Turner includes CNN, TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies. Warner Bros. produced series such as The Big Bang Theory, The Voice and The Bachelor for distribution on other networks, as well as feature films like Crazy Rich Asians, by Wonder Woman by Blade Runner 2049 The Ready Player 1 and Dunkirk. Warner Bros. also owns DC Comics.

And of course, HBO produces and distributes original series such as Game of Thrones Sex and the City, Westworld and Silicon Valley, among others, as well as documentaries and other movies and specialties.

WarnerMedia was acquired by communications and media giant AT & T in June. While viewers are less likely to forget about cable companies, networks such as HBO and Turner, traditionally dependent on cable providers' license fees, have begun to focus on "direct-to-consumer" video distribution. continuously to survive the transition.

And if you think: "Wait, HBO already has a streaming service – in fact, two", you're right. HBO Now's address to viewers who do not wish to capture the channel through a traditional cable TV offering, and HBO Go broadcasts episodes and movies to viewers subscribing to the cable channel.

According to a report released in July shortly after the AT & T acquisition, the company quickly began talking about its intention to get things moving on the shop channel. AT & T executives said they wanted to encourage HBO to create more content for distribution on mobile devices, even if it meant changing the format (for example, producing 20-minute episodes instead 60 minutes) or a drop in quality.

John Stankey, leader of the WarnerMedia division, reportedly reported the following in a New York Times report :

"We need several hours a day," said Stankey, referring to the time spent by viewers watching HBO programs. "It's not hours per week or hours per month, we need hours a day, you're competing with devices in the hands of people who catch their attention every 15 minutes."

Continuing on the theme, he added: "I want more hours of engagement, why is it important to grant more hours of engagement, because you get more data and information on a customer that then allow you to monetize through other advertising models as well as subscriptions, which I think are very important to play in the world of tomorrow. "

With the inclusion of HBO properties, Turner and Warner Bros., this new service is very similar to what Stankey was describing – although this does not prevent the expected changes in HBO from occurring as well.

The new service would be closer to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or Disney's next streaming service than channel-specific services like HBO Now or CBS All Access. While it makes sense that individual networks offer their content, I'm not sure how much space remains for these high-volume and tent-sized services.

The proliferation of streaming services

Some viewers are frustrated by the fact that the proliferation of channel-based services like HBO Now and CBS All Access will eventually cause cable cutters to spend as much as they have already spent in cable bundles to keep up with. rhythm. Some hoped that a service like Netflix would offer virtually everything for only $ 10 a month.

In reality, the economy of this $ 10 per month idea has never been so viable; Television series are expensive to make and are risky investments. Many fail. So, like venture capitalists who support Silicon Valley startups, studio executives need to support the cost of several failures plus some success when budgeting new programming. Even Netflix does not produce original content in a volume that matches what is available in a set of cables.

And if we were only looking for a set of individual channel-based services, it would still be a better offer for some cable cutters than previously with traditional cable packages. The channels would be dissociated, which would allow viewers to choose the programming that was worth paying, and the prizes would not involve a significant subsidy for ESPN and other sports networks for viewers who are not interested in it. .

However, access to all the same subscribers to cable content could eventually become more expensive. If a cable package includes 200 channels at $ 80 per month and a channel charges an average of $ 10 a month for OTT service, viewers who want access to everything they've been able to previously obtain could pay more than $ 2,000 for the same. In reality, however, most channels still do not offer dedicated streaming services outside of cable packages, and cable-like plans could solve the problem if they did – we would be then back to their starting point.

With regard to consumers who still subscribe to traditional cable and for whom these streaming services are simply additive, there is no such thing as, but no, but things do not go well: monthly fees increase.

Services such as those provided by Disney and WarnerMedia, which could in fact be bundled as both cable and multiple networks, further complicate consumer expectations as these companies have multiple networks and properties.

If all this sounds rough and uncertain, it is because it is for everyone. Along with technology companies, the television industry is undergoing a radical change. We still do not know what the landscape will look like once the shaking is over, which is at least as worrying for consumers as it is for companies whose future is uncertain.

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