By Alisha Haridasani
AT&T's $85 billion takeover of Time Warner will disrupt traditional broadcast and upend internet streaming, fundamentally changing the way consumers watch TV, said Rich Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG.
With content from HBO, CNN, and Warner Bros., AT&T will launch a "skinny bundle" of 30 channels called AT&T Watch that will be free for all AT&T wireless subscribers, Greenfield said.
“That is going to be a really disruptive move by AT&T,” he added. “It’s going to be interesting to see how the other tech companies react to this.”
Streaming services Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, which create original programming that reaches consumers directly via the internet, have broken the broadcast and cable TV stranglehold on content, putting pressure on subscription and TV advertising revenue.
“Roughly 20 percent of American households have cut the cord, discontinuing traditional MVPD services,” U.S. District Judge Richard Leon wrote in his opinion approving the AT&T bid. “That number, high as it is, continues to grow.”
The AT&T-Time Warner merger, which is expected to be completed next week, sets the stage for more vertical integrations between content creators and distributors. Comcast is expected to make another bid for 21st Century Fox’s assets as early as Wednesday in an effort to wrestle it away from Disney. If Comcast is successful, it would marry Fox’s Hollywood studio and its British broadcaster Sky with Comcast's NBC Universal.
Comcast may partner up with other companies to make that offer more attractive for Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch, said Greenfield.
“In order to really beat Disney, they sort of need a stronger balance sheet,” he said.
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