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AT&T is launching a $15-a-month TV streaming service, but there’s a big catch

Chris Mills

While giving testimony as part of AT&T’s ongoing lawsuit against the Department of Justice yesterday, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson let slip that the network will be throwing a bone to cord-cutters in the form of a new streaming service. Called AT&T Watch, it will cost $15 per month, and reportedly contain most of the same channels as the $35-per-month DirecTV Now, with one big catch: No sports.

AT&T did not return a request for details confirming the new service, but going off what Stephenson said in court, we can make an educated guess at what the new service will look like.

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Sports are the most expensive part of any cable package, so it’s no surprise that cutting the channels out will save a bunch of money. The cost is expected to be sufficiently low that AT&T will offer the service to AT&T wireless subscribers for free, according to a Wells Fargo analyst note seen by Fierce Wireless. “While AT&T has offered discounts for DTV Now to wireless user – the content package it offers (with the exception of HBO) not been free to T subscribers. If successful, we believe this could put more pressure on the other three wireless carriers (TMUS, S, TMUS) to act in a more formal way in the content space,” Wells Fargo analyst Jennifer Fritzsche wrote in her research note.

AT&T wouldn’t be the first company to offer a no-sports skinny streaming bundle. Philo is a skinny package that launched last year, and just made its way onto the Apple TV. Starting at $16, the subscription features 37 channels, including AMC, Animal Planet, Food Network, HGTV, MTV, Nick and TLC. There is also a 46 channel package for just $4 a month more. You can watch on up to three devices at once and there are no contracts, so you can cancel at any time. Sling, the live-streaming service with the most subscribers, has plans that start at $20, although that does include ESPN.

Streaming TV is set to be the next big point of competition for wireless networks. AT&T already aggressively pushes DirecTV Now discounts on its wireless subscribers, Sprint offers Hulu, and T-Mobile offers free Netflix. In addition, T-Mobile acquired TV provider Layer3 last year, with plans to launch its own streaming service sometime this year.

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