Consumers are used to cable company representatives trying to coax them into home phone service along with the purchase of home TV service.
Now, though, the battle has moved to the wireless space. In its first big move since acquiring DIRECTV for $48.5 billion, AT&T – which became the largest pay TV provider in the U.S. - announced yesterday that beginning August 10 the company would offer “the first-ever nationwide package of TV and wireless services.”
“Today is the first of many planned moves to enable our customers to enjoy a premium entertainment experience almost anywhere,” said Brad Bentley, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, AT&T Entertainment and Internet Services. “We’re going to deliver more TV and entertainment choices to more screens – when and where our customers want it. And we’ll offer incredible value with more flexibility and convenience through our integrated packages that deliver a great experience.”
The $200 plan includes HD and DVR service for up to four TV receivers, unlimited talk and text for four wireless lines, and 10GB of shareable wireless data. It also offers an immediate TV Everywhere experience to new DirecTV subscribers: after purchasing new TV service, and before installation, subscribers will be able to access content via the DIRECTV app.
More than Time Warner and Comcast, it will be interesting to see how Verizon – the company that can most immediately counter with a similar TV and wireless bundle – will react. The FCC and consumers were somewhat worried about the DIRECTV acquisition, but this offer will almost surely create competition that will benefit consumers.
The AT&T and Verizon battle will also play out on the over-the-top front. Verizon is developing a mobile video service, and has already struck a deal with Vice. AT&T is also making an OTT play in its Otter Media joint venture with The Chernin Group. This has included, so far, the purchase of a majority stake in Fullscreen.