AT&T Ponders Life Outside the U-verse with Broadband TV

Telco takes temperature of consumers for virtual MSO service

AT&T may be considering jumping into the deep end of streaming. Or it’s just worried about someone else’s streaming service washing away its customers.

(From the pages of the April 2 issue of Variety.)

A customer survey sent out March 14 to AT&T’s U-verse subscribers asked whether they would be interested in signing up for, or even inquiring about, a “new video and Internet service” that would: Stream to customers’ own devices without a receiver box; include local broadcast channels and “popular sports and entertainment” cable channels; the option to bundle one streaming service such as Netflix or Amazon Prime; and better picture quality and shorter wait times for streaming, All this would be offered “at a significantly lower price than traditional pay TV services” and without usage charges for streaming. A WiFi router and 6-megabit Internet would be included. Content would be streamed to tablets and phones as well as TVs, Blu-ray players and game consoles.

The product description could mean AT&T is considering launch of a broadband-delivered TV package outside of its U-verse footprint, perhaps in the same virtual-MSO mold as Intel, albeit on its own broadband network.

The survey also suggests the company is asking for competitive reasons. “This service could be offered by any broadband provider, not necessarily AT&T,” the survey reads.

There are two ways to read this: AT&T may be pondering a bold move on offense, offering such a service in hopes of retaining customers who are thinking about cord-cutting. Or it could just be scouting on defense, trying to get a sense of how vulnerable it is should a competitor offer such a service.

The company has sent up many trial balloons regarding new product ideas through U-verse customer surveys. Few of those ideas have come to fruition — yet. But it’s unusual for AT&T to put out a survey this specific.

AT&T seems well positioned to provide such a service, especially considering it already has relationships with major content providers. Its U-verse network is “fiber to the node,” which already brings high-speed fiber optic cable into subscribers’ neighborhoods.

More Biz

  • Best Books of 2019

    The Best Books of 2019

    Whether you experience stressful days due to your professional position, your demanding family, or simply the barrage of never-ending depressing news, there is often no better way to unwind than with a good book. Letting your imagination wander into a new world unlike your own can be exciting, it can be thought-provoking, but perhaps most [...]

  • Makan Delrahim

    Antitrust Experts Decry DOJ's 'Outrageous' Stance in Writers Guild Case

    Several experts on antitrust law have expressed concern at the stance taken by the Department of Justice in the ongoing legal feud between Hollywood writers and their agents. Three agencies have sued the Writers Guild of America for alleged violations of antitrust law. A key hearing will be held in federal court on Friday, as [...]

  • Bob Bakish Viacom CEO

    Shares of ViacomCBS Dip in First-Day Early Trading

    Shares of the newly combined ViacomCBS were off in early trading, a sign that Wall Street continues to look for new signs of growth after two of the best-known names in entertainment merged to vie with bigger rivals. Shares of the company’s new common stock were off 59 cents, or 1.38%, in late-morning trading on [...]

  • David Cohen (l) Executive Vice President

    Comcast Veteran David Cohen to Step Down

    Longtime Comcast executive David Cohen is stepping down from his operational role overseeing public policy, government relations, diversity and other key corporate functions for the media giant. Comcast said Thursday in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that Cohen, senior executive VP and chief diversity officer, will step down from his operational responsibilities as of [...]

  • Lamar Jackson 49ers

    49ers Broadcaster Suspended After Lamar Jackson 'Dark Skin' Comments

    The San Francisco 49ers have suspended one of its radio color hosts, Tim Ryan, after he made a comment about Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, saying that he is skilled at faking handoffs because of his “dark skin color with a dark football.” Ryan made the comments early on on KNBR’s “Murph and Mac” morning [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content