AT&T has announced its intention to hold off on the release of their newest streaming service, aptly named AT&T Watch, until a final decision is reached regarding the Time Warner Merger. The decision is expected to happen around June 6, and both companies are in a holding pattern while waiting to find out the fate of their deal.
AT&T Watch is heralded as a “skinnier version of DirecTV Now” and was supposed to be available to subscribers for $15/month. It was to include everything available on DirecTV Now with the exception of the sports programming. The potential new streaming service was introduced during a direct exchange between AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and a judge during the antitrust trial in April.
The announcement came in answer to accusations that AT&T was continuing to raise DirecTV Now prices and provided a viable solution on the spot. In an April article released by Variety, Stephenson argued that AT&T wanted to broaden their consumer base and to make Time Warner content available to more people—countering claims that the telecommunications mogul intended to use the content as a weapon to control the prices and content available via competitors.
Despite its dubious origins, AT&T Watch would deliver the cheapest product yet, shaving nearly $20 off the price of DirecTV Now. The streaming service would be designed to offer a very basic range of programming aimed at people who can live without the ongoing sports coverage. AT&T claims that the new streaming service would feature content directly from the Time Warner lineup—making its creation primarily dependent on the controversial merger.
Stephenson described the service, saying, “AT&T Watch would be a very low end, very thin collection of products, and I think this one will be based on getting the Time Warner deal done.”
While that may not sound particularly appealing to cord cutters, it still adds another option to the growing buffet of streaming services. In a piece published by the New York Times on Thursday, James B. Stewart refers to the government’s attempt to prevent the AT&T/Time Warner merger as the “antitrust trial of the century.” Stewart points out several other massive deals waiting in the wings that are hinging on the outcome of this one particular case.
Cord cutters are privy to something much bigger than just the birth of another “skinny” streaming service. They have the opportunity to watch entertainment history being made. This may be the beginning of a new era for the cord cutting community, and a defining moment in the future of the industry.
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