AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson might have been defending his company’s planned $85 billion merger with Time Warner when he stepped into court on Thursday, April 20, but he ended up revealing another interesting detail instead. In an attempt to explain how the merger would be good for customers, Stephenson revealed that a $15 per month “skinny bundle” live TV streaming service is coming soon, Variety reports.
If that sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is, at least in a way. This coming streaming service won’t carry any sports, meaning that even with the low price, it won’t be a great value to certain customers. This wouldn’t necessarily be a first, either: Another streaming service, Philo offers an entertainment-focused streaming package that eschews sports, though it costs ever so slightly more than what Stephenson said AT&T’s service will cost at $16 per month.
The new service is called AT&T Watch, but details on exactly what channels it will carry have yet to be revealed. This move is slightly confusing, as AT&T already operates another live TV streaming service, DirecTV Now. Why this new service isn’t just a lower-priced package for DirecTV Now isn’t currently clear, though reasons may become apparent in the future. DirecTV Now’s cheapest package currently starts at $35 per month.
The AT&T merger with Time Warner was first announced in October 2016, but quickly came under scrutiny from the FCC. The Justice Department’s main issue with the merger is that once AT&T gains control of Time Warner, it could raise prices on Turner networks like CNN, TBS, and TNT, forcing competing cable, satellite, and internet streaming services to pay more and likely raise their own prices, making AT&T services more attractive to potential customers.
Stephenson calls these concerns “absurd,” adding that “a $160 billion company doesn’t buy a $30 billion company, hoping the $30 billion company can make its value greater.” The trial is now in its fifth week and doesn’t show many signs of being over any time soon.
There is no launch date for AT&T Watch, though Stephenson said that AT&T is hoping to launch the service in the coming weeks. If you’re looking for something to watch now, be sure to check our list of the best live TV streaming services.
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