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AT&T Exec Casts Doubt on Skinny Bundles

AT&T and DirecTV aren’t looking to launch skinny bundles any time soon, said AT&T’s SVP of strategy and business development Tony Goncalves during his keynote appearance at the TV of Tomorrow Show Wednesday. “This notion of skinny is fine, until the economics don’t work,” he quipped.

Goncalves commended competitor Dish for its efforts with Sling TV, but said that his company didn’t believe in this approach. “A skinny bundle for you might be very different from a skinny bundle for me,” he said, arguing that skinny and personalized bundles just aren’t scalable. He later told Variety during an interview at the sidelines of the event that he expects the market to change significantly in the future. “Skinny will turn to fat sooner or later,” he said.

AT&T announced in March that it is looking to launch three streaming services under the DirecTV brand later this year. One of these, dubbed DirecTV Now, will include all the content found typically in a regular bundle, but streamed to consumers both on mobile and internet-connected devices. “We want to have the ability to give them pay TV as an app,” Goncalves said. “We got to un-tether it from a set-top box.”

In addition, AT&T aims to launch an ad-supported service called DirecTV Preview and a mobile-centric service dubbed DirecTV Mobile. The latter is a response to the growing appetite for mobile content AT&T already sees. More than 50 percent of AT&Ts consumers have been consuming content on mobile since the merger, he said.

Goncalves characterized DirecTV Preview as an answer to the popularity of YouTube and other free streaming services on the web, adding that the plan was to also include web-exclusive content from existing TV networks. “There is lots of short-form content related to the long-form content,” he said.

DirecTV Preview will likely also feature some content from Otter Media, the joint venture between the operator and the Chernin Group that operates Fullscreen as well as Crunchyroll and other youth-focused media services.

Goncalves called Otter “extremely important” to AT&T, and suggested that we will see the operator putting more of its weight behind Otter’s online services in the near future. This could be in form of bundled apps or other promotions as well as straight up content distribution efforts, he said. “We are a pretty huge distribution machine.”

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