Originally Posted by mdavej
More changes for DirecTV NOW on the horizon. Going in a totally different direction than predicted. Sorry, NashGuy.
The gist is Warner Media (also already owned by AT&T) is releasing a new slim, low priced streaming service. DTVN will "merge" with that, whatever that means. Warner Media owns HBO, CNN, HLN, TNT, TBS, some sports networks and Gameshow Network. Bottom line, probably even less content that we have now and more bugs since it's a "new" service.
Yeah, I saw that article this morning too. And then (as is always necessary), I found the actual news story on which the (always poorly written) Cord Cutters News article was based.
Note that what Stankey said in the original CNBC article is that he sees their live cable TV service (currently called DTVN) to "eventually" be merged into the new SVOD app (which I refer to as "HBO Max," based on leaked info, although the final name is still TBD
). While the set of predictions that I recently laid out could absolutely still prove false, this new bit of information from Stankey doesn't at all contradict them.
In fact, just yesterday I was thinking about how Hulu -- which is Disney's SVOD (i.e. their competitor to AT&T's forthcoming HBO Max) -- gives users the option to also subscribe to live cable TV service, all integrated into the same app with the base-level Hulu on-demand content. But you can't subscribe to JUST the live cable service by itself -- it automatically includes Hulu's base-level on-demand content.
Now, as you may recall, I've already predicted how the new cable channel bundles sold through DTVN -- Plus and Max and maybe a forthcoming $30 base-level "Starter" or "Select" bundle -- will all automatically include access to HBO Max. Because HBO Max represents virtually ALL of the content that AT&T/WarnerMedia owns and it's their no. 1 priority to make sure as many folks as possible pay for it. (In fact, Stankey said in the CNBC interview that the goal is reach 70 million US subs -- that's maybe 5 million more than Netflix currently has -- although they'll obviously be building from their current HBO subscriber count.)
So it's only natural that AT&T would offer users the option -- just as Hulu does -- of subscribing to their live cable TV package(s) right inside their HBO Max SVOD app and having it all integrated into the same UI. But, as Stankey said, they'll "eventually" do that. The difference with AT&T is that they will ALSO offer the live cable streaming service in its own separately branded app, where the marketing emphasis (and the UI/grid guide) will focus on live cable TV, and that will happen starting this summer. In fact, AT&T's John Donovan confirmed
this week that their new "thin-client" OTT/IPTV service is set to launch in 3Q, just as I predicted. This is going to be a relaunch of DTVN (expanded with additional channels/options) with a focus on the (optional) Osprey box that's custom designed for it. And I still predict it'll be rebranded from DTVN to "AT&T TV".
So, to recap: the AT&T TV app (on third party devices and baked into their own Osprey box) will debut soon. Like with DTVN currently, it'll be marketed as a nationwide live "cable TV" service that offers cloud DVR plus a bunch of VOD. When you subscribe to service in the AT&T TV app, you will automatically receive HBO Max as part of your base package (starting whenever HBO Max actually launches this fall), with all of the HBO Max content showing up ad-free in the VOD section of the AT&T TV app. (You may also be able to use the separate HBO Max app too.)
Later this year, the HBO Max app will debut and it will initially be purely an on-demand service, like Hulu when it started out, but with more content. Maybe a year later, HBO Max subscribers will be given the option to subscribing to the same cable channel packages offered by AT&T TV: Starter, Plus and Max. The incremental upgrade cost to add those packages will result in the same overall price as you'd pay for them inside the AT&T TV app because, remember, they already include the HBO Max content there. So they'll just have two apps with different branding and a different market focus that really end up offering the same stuff at the same prices. (If this sounds a bit like HBO Go vs. HBO Now deja vu, fair enough.)