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Don’t be distracted by AT&T’s skinny bundle reveal. It’s mostly a PR stunt

Don’t be distracted by AT&T’s skinny bundle reveal. It’s mostly a PR stunt
[Photo: Tookapic/Pexels]

To prove that his company won’t punish cord-cutters if it acquires Time Warner, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson revealed plans for a $15-per-month streaming TV bundle. The service, called “Watch,” will be free for AT&T wireless subscribers, Stephenson said on Thursday, and will keep costs down by omitting expensive sports channels. As CNN reports, the announcement came from the witness stand in federal court, where Stephenson was testifying against the government’s attempt to block the Time Warner deal on antitrust grounds.

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Promising cheap TV as a merger approval tactic isn’t new for AT&T. A few days after announcing its plans to acquire Time Warner in October 2016, Stephenson said the company’s DirecTV Now streaming bundle would cost just $35 per month for 100 channels. But that offer only lasted for a little over a month, at which point the 100-channel price jumped to $60 per month.

Let’s not herald Watch as a pro-consumer breakthrough before we see what the rules and restrictions are. And in the meantime, let’s keep mulling the longterm implications of yet another mega-merger.

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