AT&T Ends New Sign-ups for $15-a-Month Streaming Service AT&T WatchTV
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."
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.
Also read: AT&T Stops Selling U-verse TV
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 (opens in new tab) 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.
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!