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.