When AT&T bought Time Warner and created WarnerMedia, it seemed poised to create yet another streaming video service designed to compete against the likes of Netflix and Hulu.
But now, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal, it appears WarnerMedia has abandoned its plans to create a three-tiered streaming app in favor of a single streaming bundle that combines content from HBO, Cinemax, and Warner Bros. for a fixed price between $16 and $17.
The Journal cited sources familiar with the matter who said WarnerMedia’s service will be available as a beta service sometime later this year before officially launching sometime in 2020, possibly as early as March. Sources also claimed that WarnerMedia is considering offering an ad-supported variant of its steaming package for a discounted price, but currently, it’s unclear if this version would feature the same roster of content as the full price ad-free bundle. WarnerMedia did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
Last fall at a presentation in New York attended by Variety, AT&T (WarnerMedia’s parent company) outlined its original three-tier plan which was comprised of “an entry-level movie-focused package,” in addition to a “premium service with original programming and blockbuster movies” and a fully-loaded tier with everything from the first two plans along with “an extensive library of WarnerMedia content.”
But now, with a seemingly endless number of streaming video providers already on the market including AT&T’s own DirecTV Now service and more to come thanks to platforms like Disney+ and others, it seems WarnerMedia is taking the cautious route when it comes to diving into the streaming video market.
That said, by pricing its services around $16 or $17 a month, just a couple bucks more than the $15 a month it costs just for a single HBO Now subscription, WarnerMedia’s new service could be a very attractive bundle for HBO’s existing subscribers. We’ve asked the company if it has plans to discontinue HBO Now and will update this post when we receive a reply.
After establishing its service, the WSJ’s sources say WarnerMedia could add more content such as live sports or events to its offerings, though the company will have work hard not to anger cable providers who may get undercut due to WarnerMedia’s aggressive pricing for its upcoming streaming content package.
But now that Game of Thrones is over, the biggest reason to pay for HBO is now behind us, so WarnerMedia better have a damn good pitch if it expects to shell out another $15 to $20 a month for even more streaming content.