Just recently, AT&T also announced a a deal to buy Fullscreen, a YouTube video network that boasts 4 billion monthly views. Now, I don’t know about you, but online video content is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think AT&T. But this is the way the world is moving. As TV becomes something we watch on the internet and online video becomes something we watch on our TVs, the line between who makes and who delivers video content becomes very fuzzy.
AT&T owning both the content and the pipes it’s delivered on starts to sound more like the Comcast buying NBC/Universal, though on a much smaller scale. And then there’s Disney’s recent purchase of Maker Studios, another massive YouTube network—content Disney can deliver over any internet connection, making it more like a broadcaster.
The AT&T-Prime bundle—which, to be clear, only offers Prime for a year as part of the intro deal—also feels like more HBO flirtation with offering itself as an online-only option. (Comcast offers a similar broadband plus basic cable plus HBO plan, but without Prime.) Amazon Prime video is effectively an internet-only variation on HBO, especially since it has so many HBO shows right now. To soften the blow that offering online-only would have on its traditional business model, maybe HBO could bundle itself with Amazon elsewhere, too. Each alone already forces Netflix to stay on its game. Together, they would become truly formidable.