When AT&T was fighting the government to acquire Time Warner last year, free live TV was one of its key public selling points. If the deal was approved in federal court, AT&T said, its wireless subscribers would get a free bundle of nonsports channels with any unlimited data plan.
Now, 16 months after completing the acquisition, AT&T is eliminating that perk for new subscribers. Starting November 3, AT&T will replace its two current unlimited data plans with a trio of new ones, none of which include Watch TV. While the service will remain available for $15 per month, AT&T confirmed that new wireless subscribers will have no way to get the service for free. (AT&T will continue to offer free HBO with its priciest unlimited plan, but that plan is $5 per month more expensive than the one it’s replacing.)
AT&T was never particularly supportive of Watch TV in the first place. The service still hasn’t arrived on Roku, which is the most popular streaming platform in the United States, and it hasn’t gained DVR capabilities. With AT&T planning to eventually include live TV in its forthcoming HBO Max service, it won’t be surprising if Watch TV disappears outright in the future.
Free live TV isn’t the only promise AT&T has walked back since the Time Warner acquisition went through. The company has also raised live TV prices multiple times, made valuable Time Warner content exclusive to its own services, and engaged in endless carriage disputes with rival Dish Network over HBO.