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AT&T’s Three-tiered Streaming Service Will Include Movies, Possibly HBO

If you’re one of those people who thinks there just aren’t enough streaming choices available (and if so, we’d love to meet you), AT&T’s latest plans for its new on-demand streaming service — using assets from its multibillion dollar acquisition of Time Warner Inc. — should appeal to you. At a presentation on AT&T’s road map for 2019, the ever-growing media conglomerate laid out more details for its new streaming service, set to launch in 2019.

Slated for the fourth quarter of next year, the planned service will offer a three-tiered approach, including an entry-level, “movie-focused package” from WarnerMedia, a “premium” package with original programming and movies, and a flagship service that bundles content from the first two alongside other WarnerMedia TV properties. Those properties could include (but are certainly not limited to) content from HBO, Turner Networks (including CNN, TNT, and TBS among others), and Warner Bros. Entertainment

There’s no word yet on pricing, but one would imagine it will be targeted to compete with other on-demand services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu (which is co-owned by AT&T after it acquired the 10 percent stake owned by Time Warner). Using our streaming crystal ball, we’d expect the pricing for these tiers to start around the $8-per-month level and not to exceed $15 to $20 per month — that is, if the company wants its service to be priced competitively with popular on-demand streaming rivals.

That said, the expected inclusion of at least some content from HBO — which costs $15 per month on its own in its stand-alone version, HBO Now — could allow AT&T to push the pricing above rivals like Netflix and others.

The streaming landscape has become increasingly partitioned in recent years. Former partnerships between major studios and independent streaming services have become strained as media companies seek to circumvent streamers like Netflix and others by creating a direct relationship with viewers through their own on-demand portals.

Netflix and Disney’s continually dissolving partnership as Disney seeks to bulk up its own streaming service in 2019, Disney+, could be seen as a sign of things to come in the streaming marketplace. As Disney continues to remove its content from Netflix, Netflix has begun to cancel multiple superhero series created in a partnership with Disney-owned Marvel, the most recent being Daredevil, which got the ax Friday.

For its part, AT&T has plenty of its own streaming irons in the fire already. Along with its co-ownership of Hulu, AT&T owns the $15-per-month live-TV streamer Watch TV, while AT&T-owned DirecTV offers another live-TV streaming service in DirecTV Now.

Whether or not AT&T will be able to garner a strong viewership in the ever-divided marketplace remains to be seen but, like Disney, AT&T is hoping to use its wide array of assets to entice viewers to access its programming directly from the source.

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