The streaming video environment is getting even more crowded now that AT&T announced plans to launch WarnerMedia, its own direct-to-consumer video service featuring some — or all — of the assets from its $85 billion purchase of Time Warner in 2018.
With a long list of properties to draw from, WarnerMedia has plenty of potential, but many details regarding the service and its offerings remain a mystery.
Here’s everything we know about it so far.
How much will it cost?
AT&T’s plans for its upcoming Netflix competitor are undergoing a major overhaul. A report from the Wall Street Journal claims that AT&T’s service will bundle all of its WarnerMedia properties into a single streaming service that’s expected to cost somewhere between $16 and $17 a month.
That’s a big change. Previously, AT&T announced that it would offer a three-tiered streaming service that split content between movies, television shows, and original productions, including programming from HBO and Cinemax, shows from cable networks like TNT and TBS, and Warner Bros.-produced feature films.
Given that HBO costs about $15 on its own through cable providers or HBO’s own streaming package, HBO Now, that $17 could be a great value for existing HBO subscribers. However, that would still make AT&T’s service more expensive than its peers. Netflix’s standard package costs $9 per month ($13 for HD, its most popular plan), a Hulu subscription is $6 (or $12, if you want to skip commercials), and Disney’s upcoming service, Disney Plus, will set you back $7.
When will it launch?
The WarnerMedia streaming service is expected to launch in beta later in 2019, with an official release coming in 2020. In addition, The Wall Street Journal says that AT&T might offer a second, cheaper subscription plan that will be subsidized by advertisements.
What will it include?
It’s not clear exactly how many movies or television shows will be available on the service. Initially, AT&T planned to divide up its content across three tiers of subscriptions, but now it appears that a single subscription will include most or all of the WarnerMedia properties, along with original productions.
As far as TV content goes, premium cable programming from HBO and Cinemax is reportedly in the mix, as well as shows from cable networks TNT and TBS, which all fall under AT&T’s WarnerMedia banner now.
On the movie side, WarnerMedia encompasses a wide range of Warner Bros.-produced feature films — which include the DC Extended Universe superhero movies, the Harry Potter-based Wizarding World franchise, Godzilla and King Kong’s shared Monsterverse films, and the Lord of the Rings franchise, among other properties. At this point, it’s unknown whether future DC Extended Universe movies like Wonder Woman 1984 will stream exclusively on the service after their theatrical run.
The library of Warner Bros. animated series and movies based on DC Comics characters is also expected to find its way to the streaming service, although it’s unknown at this point how that will affect the existing DC Universe platform that offers all of these series along with some original content.
Speaking of original projects, recent rumors suggest a Friends reunion might be a possibility — particularly if Netflix is no longer willing to pay a high price for the popular sitcom and it migrates to AT&T’s streaming service as expected.
The DC Universe dilemma
Deadline reports that AT&T is trying to figure out how Warner Bros.’ DC Comics-focused streaming service, DC Universe, fits into the company’s future plans. Swamp Thing, DC Universe’s third original live-action series, was canceled mere days after its debut due to a bookkeeping error by the North Carolina government that, once corrected, revealed higher than expected production costs.
As a result, some analysts surmise that AT&T might shutter DC Universe, while folding its other shows, Titans and Doom Patrol, into the larger WarnerMedia service. As of this writing, Titans has been renewed for a second season, while Doom Patrol‘s future remains uncertain.
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