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WarnerMedia Streaming Service Will Launch Domestically First

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The streaming service WarnerMedia plans to introduce next year will launch domestically first, followed by a potential international rollout, and could feature content from outside providers, according to a company insider.

WarnerMedia is hoping that its direct-to-consumer offering will enable it to become a major player in a space currently dominated by Netflix. Unveiling those plans last month, CEO John Stankey said the platform would be in place by the end of 2019. That would pit the company against not just Netflix, Amazon and other existing OTT services but also Disney, which intends to debut its own streaming service, Disney+, late next year.

To compete, WarnerMedia appears to be taking a more expansive view in terms of sourcing its content. The insider said that WarnerMedia would be open to licensing shows and movies from outside the company stable, which currently includes brands such as Warner Bros. and HBO. The goal is for the new streaming service to be a “scaled distribution platform” open to other providers. Speculation has already surfaced of talks between WarnerMedia and Comcast’s NBCUniversal to form some sort of content alliance, but neither company has commented publicly on the possibility.

In terms of in-house WarnerMedia content, only HBO programming has been locked in. Which other brands and kinds of content to include is still under discussion, though one logical candidate would be the catalogue of classic, foreign and independent movies formerly available on FilmStruck, WarnerMedia’s streaming service catering to cinephiles. In one of its first and most controversial moves since Time Warner was sold to AT&T, WarnerMedia decided to shut down FilmStruck by the end of this month.

Subscription plans and prices for the upcoming WarnerMedia streaming service have not been set yet, but the company has said that a subscription would cost more than HBO’s current OTT subscription offering.

“We are committed to launching a compelling and competitive product that will serve as a complement to our existing businesses and help us to expand our reach by offering a new choice for entertainment with the WarnerMedia collection of films, television series, libraries, documentaries and animation,” Stankey said in a statement before last month’s Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit.