That’s right. According to The Verge, AT&T will start moving its owned content to its new Warner streaming service. That means Friends and ER will disappear from Netflix, along with any other Warner Bros. content. Perennial curmudgeon Stuart Sweet will say that this makes Netflix unnecessary. I’m inclined to disagree with him there because, ask you know, Netflix is the home of Stranger Things and I love Stranger Things. Aside from that, I completely agree with Stuart that this is a solid strategy for AT&T. Sure, it means Netflix subscribers won’t be able to watch WarnerMedia content, but it will give the new AT&T-owned streaming service a solid position in the market. Besides, the concept of exclusive streaming content is hardly new in this age of escalating competition between streaming service providers.
Is This Really About Friends?
Okay, I didn’t think it was a big deal when I first heard about Warner’s decision to pull its content from Netflix. I think I said, “Nobody subscribes to Netflix to watch Friends and ER.” Come to find out, I was a bit hasty with my comments there. Come to find out, Friends is one of Netflix’s most-watched show according to data from several analytics firms. For example, a recent Wall Street Journal report indicated that licensed content from WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal accounted for about 72 percent of the minutes people spent watching Netflix.
To contemplate WarnerMedia taking full control of its shows, you have to consider something. Netflix paid WarnerMedia $100 million for the rights to stream Friends through 2019. That’s a considerable chunk of change for AT&T to give up next year. That said, what unique benefits would the WarnerMedia streaming service have to offer if all its properties can be viewed somewhere else? With its new streaming service, AT&T hopes to regain the money it will lose from terminating its contract with Netflix.
Hulu and Amazon Losing WarnerMedia Content, Too
Hulu will also probably lose its WarnerMedia content at the end of the year. Since Disney swallowed up Fox, Hulu is now majority controlled by Disney, a company that also is taking its content back. All Disney shows and series are set to be featured on an up-and-coming Disney streaming service. We don’t know how this is all going to work out between Disney’s streaming service and content available on Hulu. Things should be sorted out sometime later this year when Disney’s streaming service is set to be released.
As for Prime, they’ve carried old HBO content for years. Although there’s been no formal announcement, expect Sex and the City, Curb Your Enthusiasm and other classic HBO content to move to Warner’s new service or simply go back to HBO GO/HBO NOW.
WarnerMedia Streaming: My Prediction
When it comes to AT&T’s upcoming streaming service, there’s what we know and what we think will happen. We know that AT&T plans to release this service later this year. We also know that its content will focus on all WarnerMedia programming, which includes a huge variety of TV series as well as original movies. Rumors suggest that this service will cost between $10-$20/month.
Here are some things we think we know about the WarnerMedia streaming services:
It will likely include HBO content because it is owned by AT&T.
Being the exclusive locations for Friends, ER, and other popular Warner titles should make this streaming service attractive.
WarnerMedia has a proven track record in the entertainment industry, and that should carry over to make AT&T’s streaming service a hit with many viewers.
Netflix’s hit-or-miss shows have turned some people off. Imagine Netflix without Friends and other programs. It’s possible that the addition of a WarnerMedia streaming service might create more former-Netflix users.
Granted, that’s a lot of speculation on my part. There’s no way I can stake my reputation on it because the future is always a day (or more) away. That said, I’m feeling very bullish about the soon-to-be WarnerMedia streaming service. It’s for all the above reasons, plus what I think is going to happen once it’s available. Since Solid Signal is an AT&T Preferred Dealer, I tend to look at all things WarnerMedia as part of the “home team,” so to speak. We plan to keep reporting on this as it continues to develop.