AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit will take direct aim at consumers with a coming set of OTT-delivered subscription VoD services, but pay-TV providers will also play an important role in their distribution.
DirecTV Now, AT&T’s streaming video app, has seen sharp customer declines in recent months that all but wiped out a year’s worth of subscriber growth, according to the company’s latest earnings report.
Lines are blurring or becoming more stark among different tech, media and telecom companies. Telecom companies are producing content, while platform companies are exploring new services like internet connections. That means sectors are no longer staying in their lanes, and regulatory scrutiny is shifting.
Concerned that the White House may have influenced the Justice Department’s decision to try to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger, Hill Democrats asked for any correspondence between the White House and Justice Department relating to merger. But the White House counsel declined, citing executive privilege.
Hulu said Monday that AT&T sold its stake back to owners Disney and Comcast for $1.43 billion, valuing the unprofitable Hulu at $15 billion.
The Maine Senate delegation is calling out DirecTV and parent AT&T for importing TV station distant signals into Presque Isle, Maine, rather than delivering the local stations. Unlike cable operators, satellite operators don’t have to carry local TV stations, though if they carry one they must carry all. Presque Isle is one of a dozen of the smallest markets where DirecTV has chosen not to carry the stations.
After negotiating throughout the weekend, AT&T and Viacom announced Monday morning that they had reached an agreement to renew their carriage agreement. Details of the deal were not immediately available.
Viacom is blasting telco giant AT&T on several fronts as the companies wrestle over a carriage renewal deal that is vital to Viacom’s long-term financial health. As of Tuesday, Viacom had begun running crawls and promo spots on its channels warning viewers that Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, MTV and other channels could go dark on AT&T’s DirecTV as of midnight ET on Friday, when the current contract expires.
DirecTV Now used to start at $40 a month. The cheapest for new customers will now be $50. Packages will now include the AT&T-owned HBO, but the service is dropping some popular lifestyle and entertainment networks not owned by AT&T, including HGTV, Discovery, Food Network and MTV.
WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey, who is overseeing AT&T’s takeover and integration of Time Warner, made $16.55 million in 2018, up 64% from $10.01 million a year before. In an SEC filing on Monday, AT&T also reported that CEO Randall Stephenson, whose giant telecommunications company also owns and runs DirecTV, saw his total compensation last year rise to $29.1 million, against a year-earlier $28.7 million.