Next year, the video streaming ecosystem is going to become more crowded as both AT&T and Disney enter the fray. AT&T’s bid to take on Netflix comes after its merger with Time Warner, and now we’re hearing the service will have three subscription tiers.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson revealed the plan for three tiers during an analyst day presentation. He explained that traditional cable and satellite TV is no longer enough, but at the same time communications companies such as AT&T “can no longer rely exclusively on oversized bundles of content.”
The solution, as Stephenson and WarnerMedia see it, is three tiers of content bundles: entry-level, premium, and what would be viewed as the ultimate bundle. Entry-level is expected to offer a starter package of movies but nothing more. The premium bundle will focus on “original programming and blockbuster movies.” The highest tier will include all the content of the entry-level and premium tiers, but adds WarnerMedia library content and eventually third-party licensed content.
It sounds as though the most expensive tier will be comparable to what Netflix and Amazon Prime Video offer today, so we should probably expect the pricing to be comparable while the entry-level and premium bundles undercut the competition if you don’t mind limited choice. If that turns out not to be the case and AT&T is more expensive than Netflix, then the service will struggle to get off the ground.
We’ve still got quite some time to wait before AT&T’s streaming service appears. A beta is planned for the fourth quarter of 2019, giving Netflix plenty of time to continue growing, watch what AT&T is planning, and (if necessary) react to that in time for the launch. Ultimately, content is king and unfortunately for consumers that may mean the shows you want to watch are limited to one service or another in the coming years.
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