AT&T, your friendly ISP and cell-phone provider, just became an online TV-Show and Movie network with the introduction of a new Web site. But it's not in competition against Hulu--thanks to an agreement with Hulu.
The new site is called AT&T Entertainment, and it's an aggregator for content delivered by a whole host of different providers. Among the offerings are CBS Interactive, CBS News, Bravo, Syfy, NBC Universal, and ABC--these last two come courtesy of Hulu, which is busily grabbing lots of the online TV market for itself independently. It doesn't stop there either: The service can be used by non-AT&T subscribers, but if you're a U-Verse user you can sign in and remotely-manage your DVR from there, using the long-established Web Remote Access faciltiy. And AT&T is planning on adding in more TV shows and movies from "other leading providers" over time--so the content available on the site is only going to get better.
If you think it's a little strange that AT&T is trying this out, there's some clear thinking behind it as the company's press release explains: "By delivering video entertainment to your PC, the new site is part of AT&T's strategy to make popular content available to consumers across the three screens at the center of their lives--the TV, PC and wireless phone." So AT&T is maneuvering to position itself at the core of your online entertainment experience, and it's trying very hard to avoid becoming the mere pipe through which all that lovely audio-visual data is streamed to you by other providers, whether you're watching TV or on your smartphone. As such, an entertainment hub is easy low-hanging fruit for the company to grab onto to try to keep a central role. Will it work? It's hard to say--a future where your cellphone network/ISP is just a vanilla data provider is easy to imagine. And that's why AT&T's opened the site up to all-comers in the U.S.--garnering more pageviews and (thus command better ad revenues?) as a result.