US comms giant AT&T is planning to launch AT&T Watch, an OTT skinny TV service, in the coming weeks.
According to AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson's anti-trust trial testimony for the pending AT&T-Time Warner merger, it would be a sports-free service that will go for $15 per month. It will be free to customers on its unlimited mobile service plans.
Skinny TV has been good for AT&T so far: In its Q4 results, it said that the DIRECTV NOW service surpassed the one-million subscriber mark in the US. Over the year, there were 368,000 DIRECTV NOW net adds to reach nearly 1.2 million subs.
AT&T also said in a pretrial brief that the combination with Time Warner, which is on ice after the Department of Justice officially moved to block it, would enable AT&T to bring those content assets to its wireless platform to "develop new and more valuable services especially for mobile video devices."
It would "launch a new service with Turner and a small number of popular cable networks, which would be made available for free to AT&T's wireless customers on unlimited plans and for a nominal price to anyone else."
The DOJ is arguing that if AT&T, the nation's largest pay-TV company, acquires Time Warner - the third largest media company worldwide and owner of HBO, Turner Broadcasting, CNN and the Warner Bros studio - it would gain too much control over programming and distribution, and potentially represent an antitrust situation. The fear is that the merged company's size would be such that it would impede competition from online video distributors and raise content prices on its rivals on the distribution side - all of which would translate into higher prices for consumers.