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AT&T Launches New 'WatchTV' Streaming Service

by August 04, 2018
AT&T "WatchTV Streaming Service

AT&T "WatchTV' Streaming Service

Not long after completing the hotly-contested takeover of Time Warner, AT&T has launched a new TV streaming service called WatchTV. The new service, which currently boasts 31 live channels and over 15,000 television shows and movies on demand, is available at no cost to some subscribers of the company’s wireless services, and costs $15 per month as a stand-alone offering. WatchTV was first announced by AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson during the Justice Department's unsuccessful attempt to block the Time Warner merger via an antitrust lawsuit. That suit ended in June, when a federal judge ruled that the blockbuster acquisition could proceed without any conditions. The landmark ruling marked a momentous defeat for the Justice Department, but it was a huge win for AT&T. The company said that it would continue to introduce new services as a result of the successful deal, which was valued at $85 million.

At just $15 per month, the new WatchTV service is currently the most affordable of its kind, and should enable AT&T to expand its subscriber base into the lower end of the streaming TV market. The company already offers the pricier DirecTV Now service, which includes over 60 channels for a monthly fee of $35. Hulu’s live TV service costs $39.99 per month. Even Sling TV, which has been one of the more affordable options until now, recently raised the price from $20 to $25 per month for its least expensive package. So how has AT&T managed to keep the price so low for WatchTV? The answer is simple: it’s a relatively bare-bones offering. Unlike some of its competitors, WatchTV doesn’t offer live sports, nor access to local channels. There’s no virtual DVR functionality, and you can’t watch multiple shows at the same time. But for many customers, the low price will make up for these limitations.

The new service does offer access to live programming on several of Time Warner’s most popular networks, such as CNN, TNT, TBS, and Cartoon Network. Other popular cable channels, including AMC, HGTV, and A&E, are also part of the bundle. Six networks owned by Viacom will soon be added, including Comedy Central, BET, and NickToons, increasing the number of live network options to 37. According to AT&T, WatchTV should work with most smartphones, tablets, and web browsers. Media streamers from Roku, Amazon, and Apple will get dedicated WatchTV apps (these may already be up and running by the time you read this), and Google’s Chromecast was supported at launch.

In addition to offering WatchTV as a stand-alone programming package for $15 per month, AT&T will be offering the service for free to subscribers of the company’s two new unlimited wireless plans, called “Unlimited &More,” and “Unlimited &More Premium.” Both plans include unlimited wireless data, phone calls, and texts. The AT&T Unlimited &More plan starts at $70 per month for a single line. Subscribers to this plan can enjoy the WatchTV service in HD via Wifi, but streaming is limited to standard definition (480p) over the cellular network. For $80 per month, the AT&T Unlimited &More Premium option provides 1080p video over the cellular network, and adds 15GB of hotspot usage per month. The premium plan also includes your choice of one additional music or video streaming service from the following options: HBO, Cinemax, SHOWTIME, Starz, Amazon Music Unlimited, Pandora Premium, and VRV (a video streaming service aimed at millennials). Both of the new AT&T unlimited plans also include a monthly credit of $15 toward DirecTV satellite service, but AT&T Unlimited & More Premium customers have the option of applying their $15 credit toward DirecTV Now or AT&T Uverse, if they prefer.

With its new WatchTV service, AT&T is offering a compelling freebie for the big-spenders who choose the company’s unlimited wireless plans, while at the same time providing an affordable way for penny-pinching customers to watch live TV without spending any more than necessary. Will the limited channel lineup cause potential customers to look elsewhere, or will WatchTV help AT&T hang on to cord-cutters who are sick of paying high prices for cable and satellite programming?

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About the author:
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Jacob is a music-lover and audiophile who enjoys convincing his friends to buy audio gear that they can't afford. He's also a freelance writer and editor based in Los Angeles.

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