On the heels of closing its acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T has formally introduced WatchTV, a skinny bundle without sports or local broadcast networks that features a lineup of more than 30 live channels and a VOD library of about 15,000 TV shows and movies.
AT&T said it will offer WatchTV (via the WatchTV mobile app, Web browsers and select streaming devices) at no added cost to mobile customers who sign up for two new unlimited wireless plans – AT&T Unlimited & More and AT&T Unlimited & More Premium – that are slated to launch next week.
AT&T said it also will “soon” offer WatchTV as a $15 per month standalone service.
Channels in the WatchTV lineup at launch include: A&E, AMC, Animal Planet, Audience (from AT&T), BBC World News, BBC America, Boomerang, CNN, Cartoon Network, Discovery, Food Network, fyi, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, HGTV, History, HLN, IFC, Investigation Discovery, Lifetime, Lifetime Movies, OWN, Sundance TV, TBS, Turner Classic Movies, TLC, TNT, truTV, Velocity, Viceland, and We TV.
Networks set to join the WatchTV lineup “soon after launch” include BET, Comedy Central, MTV2, Nicktoons, TeenNick, and VH1.
More detail about WatchTV emerge about a month after AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson dropped hints about the coming service when he gave antitrust trial testimony during the then-pending AT&T-Time Warner merger.
In addition to being used as a perk for AT&T’s new unlimited wireless plans, WatchTV also presents competition for Philo, the sports-free OTT TV service launched last November, and perhaps less so for AT&T’s own DirecTV Now service as well as OTT-delivered pay TV services such as Sling TV, Hulu Live, PlayStation Vue, and fuboTV, a sports-focused service.
Here’s how AT&T’s new unlimited mobile plans stack up feature-wise:
AT&T Unlimited & More Premium
- Option to add WatchTV
- Option to add one of the following premiums: HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Starz, Amazon Music Unlimited, Pandora Premium, or VRV, the Ellation-owned SVOD aggregation service
- $15 monthly credit toward DirecTV (the satellite TV service), DirecTV Now (OTT TV) or U-verse TV (AT&T’s managed IPTV service)
- 15 gigabytes of device tethering
- Streaming at high quality
AT&T Unlimited & More
- Option to add WatchTV
- $15 monthly credit toward DirecTV Now
- Up to 4G LTE unlimited data.
AT&T said more details about the new plans will be available here when they are launched next week. The current plans – AT&T Unlimited Plus Enhanced and Unlimited Choice Enhanced – sell for $48 per line (or $190 per month for four lines) and $40 per line (or $160 per month for four lines), respectively.
Notably, AT&T said subs on the unlimited plans could see lower data speeds (and video could be limited to standard-definition) when the network is congested.
AT&T is enhancing its new unlimited plans with video-focused features amid ongoing competition with rivals such as Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile, which is working on a national OTT TV service following its acquisition of Layer3 TV.
Cable operators such as Comcast, Charter Communications and Altice have launched or are preparing to launch mobile services that lean on MVNO deals and their own WiFi networks.