AT&T quickly rolls out streaming TV service after Time Warner deal

Lula Sharp
June 22, 2018

Smaller competitors T-Mobile tmus and Sprint s unveiled the first cheaper unlimited plans in 2016 as a way to combat the more complex and costly offerings from AT&T and Verizon.

The No. 2 United States wireless carrier is putting to use Time Warner's stable of content, including TV channels like TBS and CNN, to drive sales of the wireless plans at a time when carriers have struggled to find growth.

Thursday's announcement comes just days after AT&T closed its $81 billion Time Warner deal.

WatchTV is, like DirectTV NOW, YouTube TV, and similar offerings, a way to watch live TV channels over the Internet.

Will a free streaming service help hook customers? That's a bit of a departure from AT&T's current unlimited plans, which included free HBO; under the new plans, HBO will be limited to the more expensive unlimited data tier and only one of many options that subscribers can pick. A standalone version of WatchTV will be available at some point for $15 a month.

Meanwhile, the other plan is called "AT&T Unlimited &More Premium", which has the same features as the other unlimited plan, but bumps up the video streaming cap to 1080p and offers 15GB of mobile hotspot data per month. The new plans launch next week.

Subscribers to the new AT&T unlimited data plans also get a $15 monthly credit on AT&T's other pay TV services-DirecTV satellite, U-verse and virtual MVPD DirecTV Now.

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At no additional monthly cost, users can choose to add one premium service from a list that includes HBO, Pandora Premium and Amazon Music.

As for Watch, it is devoid of local broadcast channels, as well as ESPN, pro league channels like NFL Network and regional sports networks.

But the new plans also threaten to overwhelm consumers with too many choices.

Pricing for the AT&T Unlimited &More Premium service starts at $80 a month for a single phone line. That's the same price as the Unlimited Plus Enhanced plan it replaces.

Finally, AT&T plans to expand availability of WatchTV at a later date, with even non-AT&T customers getting the option to use it if they want.

In addition to WatchTV, AT&T will offer other video services to its wireless customers.

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