AT&T has a new streaming service in the works and it now looks like that service will be the priority for certain shows and content.
The details on this come from a new report out of The Information which credits comments provided by “several people familiar with the situation.”
Based on those sources, AT&T will make sure new episodes of existing popular shows are shown on the new service before becoming available elsewhere - including via cable.
TNT’s “The Alienist” was given as a prime example.
This service is being positioned as a WarnerMedia service as it will look to capitalize on the wealth of content AT&T now owns following the Time Warner purchase.
The suggestion the new service will exclusively show select shows before even cable is interesting as that contradicts one of the main benefits of subscribing to cable in the first place. For example with the “The Alienist,” those who subscribe to the new WarenerMedia service will see the latest episode before those who pay for access to TNT through their cable subscription - in spite of the show being a TNT show.
If correct, this would likely also include customers of AT&T’s other streaming solutions.
Subscribers to the company’s entry-level DIRECTV NOW plan currently pay $50 per month for access to a selection of channels including TNT. The suggestion here is those same customers won’t get to see certain shows as soon as they would if they had paid for the new service.
AT&T may decide that’s not the case for customers of its own services, or may in fact be using this as some sort of motivator for those customers to also sign up to the new service or to bundle the services together - if that option becomes available.
One of the reasons suggested for this approach is those readying the service want to make the new WarnerMedia service a priority going forward. Presumably, even at the expense of relationships it might have with other providers who also offer access to the same networks.
While interesting, it is not totally surprising. AT&T has taken a somewhat aggressive approach since the Time Warner purchase and has looked to prioritize its own content over other content.
This was most recently seen with the relaunch of DIRECTV NOW which saw a far greater focus on channels and networks owned by AT&T compared to others. At the time Viacom was the biggest casualty in this respect, although that soon changed when following public pressure the two agreed to a new deal. In spite of the new deal, Viacom did only return in a limited capacity compared to before the relaunch.
In the case of the new service, it is a given that the entire lineup will be WarnerMedia-owned content from the get-go and so AT&T will not have the luxury of prioritizing content unless it was to actually completely pull access to channels and shows from alternative providers. What AT&T can do though is ensure that its customers have access to content before anyone else - which is exactly what is now being suggested.
It is also not surprising that AT&T is looking to make this new service its main priority going forward as this seems to be a trend in the market right now. Disney and NBC are also preparing their own streaming services and they too will prioritize direct access to some content through their services although with those other services there's no suggestion of a time-delay. Instead it will simply either be only available through the in-house service or widely available.