WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey made remarks earlier this year that led some to fear that AT&T was intent on turning HBO into Netflix. The good news is, that doesn’t appear to be the case. The bad news is that AT&T is instead planning on launching a Netflix-style service that would mean HBO and Time Warner content will eventually disappear from other services, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Stankey announced the service on Wednesday at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit, saying that the service is currently planned to launch in the fourth quarter of 2019. In addition to content from HBO, the service will also carry content from Time Warner, which AT&T recently acquired. This will include Time Warner movies, as well as TV shows from Warner-owned networks like Cartoon Network.
“You’re going to see a stronger HBO as this offering comes to market,” Stankey told the crowd “I believe this platform that we’ll put in place will see other strong brands around it that a customer can identify with.”
If you’re wondering what this means about your plans to watch the entire run of Deadwood for the fifth time, you’ll be glad to know that Stankey confirmed HBO will still be offered as a stand-alone product. He also confirmed that CNN will not be part of the new service, meaning you’ll have to look elsewhere, like AT&T’s own DirecTV Now, for your news fix.
One thing that was not confirmed was pricing, but the new service will likely be more expensive than HBO Now, which costs $15 per month. That means no matter what the price is, it’s going to be hard to convince potential customers that the service is a better value than Netflix or even HBO Now. But considering the planned launch is at least a year away, AT&T has plenty of time to add features to the service that could make it more enticing to customers.
This is an interesting time in streaming, as AT&T is far from the only major company looking at its own streaming service. Disney is also planning a family-oriented subscription service alongside its current offerings like ESPN Plus. Whether viewers find these stand-alone services to be worth it compared to one-stop shops like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video remains to be seen.