It took long enough, but the AT&T controlled WarnerMedia finally announced plans for its own upcoming streaming service.
Variety reports the as-yet-unnamed service was announced on Wednesday by WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey and will launch by the end of 2019. HBO’s content will be a cornerstone of the service — presumably replacing the current HBO Go service — with additional aspects of Warner’s extensive content library supporting the key offerings. Sadly, this means the new service will cost more than HBO Go. Curiously, Stankey admitted HBO Go’s price was determined because of “emotional engagement” between the audience and shows like Game of Thrones.
The move is hardly surprising. Since Disney first announced its intention to launch a streaming service, it has only been a matter of time before other large media corporations chose to silo their content in propriety apps and services. In fact, both the AT&T/Warner merge and Disney’s purchase of 20th Century Fox were early skirmishes in a coming over-the-top subscription service war; a conflict seemingly precipitated by Netflix’s performance in the market.
In fact, it almost makes one wonder if Disney will eventually turn around and buy its own telecom company to support the bandwidth needs of its service.
But as opposed to Disney’s intention of putting all of their content — which includes the Marvel Studios features, Star Wars material, Disney animation and live action remakes, and the Fox library — in one service, Stankey revealed the WarnerMedia service will be a “collection of boutiques that meet your particular needs, but all have an understood level of quality.” Which suggests it will attempt to splinter the services in a way Disney CEO Bob Iger later dismissed after noting consumer backlash to the idea.
It is possible the recently launched DC Universe is a test case for this “collection of boutiques.” If that level of granularity is the goal, you can bet pricing tiers, an AT&T favorite, is also in the forecast.
For the moment, though, the price to consumers will not be revealed until the service is closer to launch — another shade of DC Universe. In the meantime, expect the other remaining media conglomerates to announce their own services in the weeks and months ahead as the Streaming War inches closer to reality.