AT&T T announced Wednesday its plans to launch a streaming television service in late 2019 that will see it take on the likes of Netflix NFLX and Amazon AMZN, among others. The pay-TV giant will utilize its recent purchase of Time Warner to roll out a direct-to-consumer streaming platform that features HBO and content like Harry Potter.

AT&T Streaming

AT&T, which already offers streaming via HBO Go, HBO Now, and DirecTV Now, said it will introduce a new direct-to-consumer streaming service in the fourth quarter of 2019. The service is set to include “the WarnerMedia collection of films, television series, libraries, documentaries and animation,” according to an SEC filing.

WarnerMedia includes HBO, Turner, and Warner Bros. “Our service will start with HBO and the genre defining programming that viewers crave. On top of that we will package content from Turner and Warner Bros. with their deep brand connections that touch both diverse interests and mass audiences,” WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey wrote in an internal memo obtained by CNN.

At the moment it seems like AT&T’s streaming platform will be a beefed-up version of HBO’s current streaming offerings. The company will add a slew of WarnerMedia content, which could include the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings franchises, The Big Bang Theory, cult hits like Rick and Morty, and much more. Plus, the company said that 2017 marked its biggest year at the box office, with hits like Wonder Woman and Dunkirk.

AT&T’s streaming announcement comes as the media landscape continues to consolidate. This includes Disney’s DIS massive deal with 21st Century Fox FOXA and the Comcast CMCSA and Sky PLC SKYAY agreement.


Streaming Wars

AT&T’s streaming service will roll out with some compelling offerings. However, it is unclear exactly what the new, unnamed service will include next year. Some of the uncertainty stems from the fact that WarnerMedia has a ton of existing distribution deals. The company said that it hopes to strike a balance between its new service and its current cable and satellite deals.

Similarly, Disney, which plans to introduce its new stand-alone streaming offering in late 2019, won’t offer all of its biggest movies across Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and its namesake brand, due to current deals. AT&T, like Disney, also hasn’t announced a price point for its service.

Disney is, however, committed to offering new Star Wars and Marvel TV shows on its streaming service. It is unclear how much brand-new original content AT&T plans to offer its streaming customers. But as the streaming market grows, the best content at the best price will likely win.

Who Wins?

On top of AT&T and Disney, Apple AAPL is ready to launch its own streaming service that features TV shows from some of Hollywood’s biggest names both in front of and behind the camera.

By the end of 2019 or the start of 2020, there will likely be five major stand-alone streaming services: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney, AT&T, and Apple. Not to mention Hulu, which Disney owns a controlling stake in. The question then becomes how do consumers, who cut the cord to try to save money, decide which service or services are worth paying for.

Netflix currently boasts over 130 million subscribers worldwide and is one of the largest streaming players. Plus, the company recently dethroned HBO’s 17-year streak at the top of the Emmy nomination list. Hit, critically acclaimed content will likely prove vital to keeping and adding customers going forward.  

Meanwhile, Amazon continues to spend on new original TV shows and movies. Yet the key for Amazon and Disney might be their ability to mix in live sports, which AT&T could also due through Turner.

It is far too early to tell which company will come out on top. But it will certainly be fun to watch the streaming battle play out over the next few years. 

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The Walt Disney Company (DIS): Free Stock Analysis Report, Inc. (AMZN): Free Stock Analysis Report
Netflix, Inc. (NFLX): Free Stock Analysis Report
AT&T Inc. (T): Free Stock Analysis Report
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Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. (FOXA): Free Stock Analysis Report
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