AT&T CEO, Randall Stephenson informed the attendees at an antitrust trial regarding the companies proposed merger with Time Warner that the company is looking to launch a sports free skinny bundle. The name, “Watch”.
Why Offer A Sports Free Service
CNN reported that the service will be free to wireless subscribers who have unlimited plans and cost other users $15.00 a month otherwise. By avoiding sports the service avoids the expensive fees that come along with them. Philo, which launched recently uses the same model. While sports regularly get the highest live TV ratings, there are plenty who can live without them. It seems like providers are getting the message. Users who don’t watch ESPN’s growing family of networks could care less if it paid for rights. They just want to watch the science channel.
Pairing streaming with phone service a growing trend
Free Netflix, Free HBO Now and other perks are becoming a norm with cell phone carriers. In the case of services like Netflix it is a small pill to swallow for carriers that also pair new cell service with phone leases that take years to pay off. Pairing company assets as an incentive though will likely grow. Verizon offers cable services. What are the chances it will launch its own free skinny bundle service going forward? Rather strong I think.
Don’t forget the bigger screen
Yes people have gotten used to watching content on their phones or tablets. But as time goes on programmers are finding that people still prefer to take in programming on the bigger screens, even if they don’t replace them as often as they do their phones. That being said I would not be surprised if Watch was available via the existing DirecTV Now App. Maybe it will be rebranded or have a few sign in options. ESPN is using this method as it has rolled out the ESPN + pay service by integrating it into an app update for ESPN and Watch ESPN apps across wireless and TV connected devices.
Work on the name!
Let me be the first to say the new name of the service “Watch AT&T”. If I’ve learned anything in 5 years of covering this world it’s that the populace names services better than the executives from time to time and AT&T Watch sounds like a wearable, not a TV service. So like Sling Television quickly morphed into being called “Sling” colloquially at least, AT&T should be prepared for brand confusion. Hopefully in the end consumers will enjoy the entry, whatever its called and how ever they watch it.