Just as cable customers are embracing the digital shift away from set top boxes and towards streaming services, so too are multinational corporations embracing the on-demand, instantaneous content offerings. Warner Bros.’s DC Comics wing recently launched the DC Universe platform for original content accessed by subscribers, HBO has had its own on-demand streaming service in HBO GO for a while now, and even The CW has a digital offering in CW Seed and a deal with Netflix for all its superhero series offerings. What’s odd is that all of these individual entities, and more, are already part of WarnerMedia, itself now a subsidiary of AT&T after a successful defense of an antitrust lawsuit that attempted to block the merger. So what exactly are AT&T’s plans for their newly acquired WarnerMedia properties and currently existing streaming services?
As Variety and others have reported, WarnerMedia is aiming to launch a global, direct-to-consumer streaming platform in late 2019. According to WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey during his announcement, “the company will mine its library and content engines to create such a service by the end of 2019.” HBO will front the new platform with the premium network being bundled up with other WarnerMedia content. No price has been set just yet, and likely won’t be announced until it’s closer to market release, but Stankey himself said it will cost more than the vanilla HBO subscription plan. Those dollar amounts may shift, however, since Stankey also touts the service as being “competitive” to Netflix. Good luck on that front; all such services are marketed as “Netflix-killers” but we’ve yet to see one actually deliver.
“Today we announced plans to launch a new direct-to-consumer streaming service in the fourth quarter of 2019. This is another benefit of the AT&T/Time Warner merger, and we are committed to launching a compelling and competitive product that will serve as a complement to our existing businesses and help us to expand our reach by offering a new choice for entertainment with the WarnerMedia collection of films, television series, libraries, documentaries and animation loved by consumers around the world. We expect to create such a compelling product that it will help distributors increase consumer penetration of their current packages and help us successfully reach more customers.”
In addition to the aforementioned brands owned by AT&T/WarnerMedia, other properties include Turner–massive enough on its own and including Cartoon Network–and Otter Media, which itself includes Crunchyroll, VRV, Fullscreen, Gunpowder & Sky, Hello Sunshine, and Rooster Teeth. Crunchyroll and Rooster Teeth already have their own streaming services, and VRV is a streaming service bundle that includes many of the brands mentioned above. In short, right now this plan appears to be a big ol’ mess with lots of redundancies scattered throughout, so expect something of a shake-up as AT&T puts their plans together over the next year.