Skinny-bundle OTT product, given free to unlimited wireless customers, was once touted by outgoing CEO Randall Stephenson as proof that AT&T’s $85 billion takeover of Time Warner wouldn’t harm streaming video innovation
AT&T has begun telling subscribers to its skinny-bundle streaming service AT&T WatchTV that the platform will no longer be available to new customers.
“Standalone WatchTV is no longer available for new sign ups or to re-subscribe,” AT&T says on its WatchTV landing page. “Existing WatchTV customers who subscribe to the app or have a qualifying AT&T Unlimited plan can continue to use the service. Customers on a qualifying AT&T Unlimited plan with the WatchTV benefit can create an account here.”
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AT&T announced late last year that it would no longer be giving the service away free to AT&T unlimited wireless customers. And with AT&T now focused on its HBO Max direct-to-consumer streaming service and its AT&T TV IP-based pay TV platform, it had been expected for months that AT&T WatchTV would go the way of other AT&T video products, including pay TV platform U-verse.
Indeed, among the head-spinning whirlwind that has been AT&T’s video strategy recently—it was less than four years ago when now-marginalized virtual MVPD DirecTV Now was launched as the centerpiece platform—there seem to be a lot of comings and goings.
WatchTV offers a selection of more than 30 basic cable channels, including A&E AMC, BBC America, Cartoon Network, CNN, Comedy Central, Discovery, Food Network, Hallmark Channel, History, Lifetime, MTV, Nickelodeon, OWN, TNT and TBS.
For those who don’t subscribe to an AT&T unlimited wireless plan, the service has been priced at $15 a month.
Notably, the service was supported not only by iOS and Android mobile devices, and Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Google Chromecast, but AT&T never established app support for Roku.
From the launch of AT&T WatchTV back in 2018, some pundits have suspected the service was merely a “PR stunt,” a salve used to alleviate regulator concerns that AT&T’s $85 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable two years ago wouldn’t harm cord-cutting consumers.
In fact, AT&T Watch was first announced in April 2018 by Stephenson from a federal court witness stand, where he was testifying that the merger wouldn’t harm innovation of the streaming video business.