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INTX 2016: AT&T Strives for ‘Digital Bundle’

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BOSTON – AT&T Entertainment Group CEO John Stankey said recent moves to acquire digital content and technology are part of an overall plan to meld long-form, short-form, mobile and premium content into a new category, a so-called digital bundle that could help draw consumers who have been reluctant to participate in pay TV into the fold.

At Tuesday’s INTX Show General Session, Stankey pointed to AT&T’s joint venture with former 21st Century Fox chief Peter Chernin – Otter Media – and other moves including its purchase of Quickplay, are all part of that overall plan.

The Quickplay deal, he said, fulfills a desire the company has had almost for the dozen years it has been in the TV business – to won he full stack of technology behind its services. Quickplay, a multi-screen video firm for managed and over-the-top video that currently supports AT&T U-Verse’s TV Everywhere service, is a move in that direction.

“[Now] we own the entire technology stack to deliver to end users,” Stankey said. “Most people are going to play in the full stack approach,” Stankey said, adding he feels good about what the moves does for the company.

Related:Behind AT&T’s Cross-Platform Video Moves: Q&A With Tony Goncalves [subscription required]

Stankey said that in the next two or three years, he envisions a world where AT&T has fused its products in the mobile, premium content with other short-form and long-form programming from Otter and other sources, creating a new category where the two are blended together.

“If we’re successful, it’s also an opportunity to start pulling folks who haven’t moved into; subscriber services into subscriber services,” Stankey said. “I don’t know what precisely that is going to be, but mobile allows you to try a lot of different things.”

Stankey stopped short of calling AT&T’s moves an attempt to create a gateway product for younger consumers, and added that some consumers will never be coaxed into the pay TV model.

“I definitely believe we need to have a set of training wheels,” Stankey said. “And I do believe that some will never come into the ecosystem. But we’re starting to see where different sized bundles allow you to address different parts of the market.”

He added that building the right architecture, providing connectivity and helping consumers move the “tonnage” of bits for entertainment or what have you while maintaining a proper return on investment, “that’s OK as a business too.”

Stankey also joined the chorus of pay TV operators in opposition to recent proposals by the Federal Communications Commission to unlock set-top boxes and xx, addingthat the current environment that encourages investment in infrastructure “seems to be a winning  combination.”