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Week In Review: AT&T Unveils Its Netflix Killing Plan, Snapchat Unveils Its TV Killing Plan

1. AT&T Unveils Its Netflix Killing Plan

AT&T’s Warner Media division unveiled its ambitious plan to take on Netflix and capitalize on its newly acquired Time Warner assets with a brand new OTT app it’s planning on launching next year.

Why It Matters

While full details are light, it seems as if the new app is going to be HBO On Steroids.

In other words, they will be using HBO and its popular programming as the centerpiece of the app and adding in additional programming from various and sundry Warner Media properties including, CNN, TNT, TBS, Boomerang, the DC Comics app, Warner Studios (movies), et al.

(Or, as AT&T’s lawyers so poetically put it in a recent filing “consolidating resources from sub-scale D2C efforts, fallow library content and technology reuse.”)

Two other key points Warner Media chief John Stankey made were (a) the service would likely cost more than the $15/month HBO is currently charging customers and (b) they were going to spend billions on content too. As in matching Netflix billions.

So while it’s great to have yet another Netflix challenger on the way, five big questions immediately crop up:

  1. Will consumers really want to pay more than $15/month for a service that’s likely to be an add-on to whatever live pay TV service they already have, the way Netflix currently is? (The vast majority of Netflix subscribers have the service in addition to some form of pay TV, not instead of it.)
  2. Is this service intended (as it seems) to be VOD only, and not some sort of variation on DirecTV Now that also features live programming?
  3. If Warner is spending $8 billion on original programming too, how is anyone going to watch all of the new programming that’s being output and won’t that just doom a lot of good shows—on all networks—to failure?
  4. Will this just lead to more churn as people sign up to watch a particular show, waiting till all/most episodes are available, bingeing and then cancelling?
  5. Will AT&T offer its subscribers—mobile and/or 5G broadbands—a significant discount on the new service as a way of signing them up and keeping them from straying?

What You Need To Do About It

Not much to do other than sit and wait to see how it all plays out.

If you’ve always wanted to make a TV series though, now is your chance—there’s a lot of money out there and a lot of opportunity.


2. Snapchat Unveils Its TV Killing Plan

Snapchat has been quietly launching vertical video series on its Discover tab. Enough of them have done well (at least by Snap’s standards) to warrant the service expanding the program. While the original slate was heavy on news and other non-fiction programming, the 12 new series will be scripted, a mix of comedy and drama.

Why It Matters

While Snap seems to have about 15 users over the age of 25, it’s wildly popular with the younger demographic, who mostly use it for a form of texting.

Which is why Snap TV actually makes a lot of sense. If you’re on the app all the time, there’s not much else to do other than text (“Snap”) or read the dumbed-down Discover stories. So a few well done short-form video series may prove to be an excellent way to kill time and give you and your friends something else to talk about that your parents won’t ever truly understand.

It’s easy to see kids watching these five-minute serialized videos while they’re waiting for their friends to Snap them back and getting hooked on them and making them a habit, telling their friends about them, following their stars on Snap and “Insta” and all that.

Especially if the series are well done and well produced. (This is something, as we’ve mentioned countless times before, that Silicon Valley companies tend to forget that shows need to be good, just not well-targeted.)

Now if they could just figure out a way to appeal to viewers born prior to 1993 …

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re an advertiser, Snap is going to be monetizing the programs with unskippable six second spots, with a couple of ad breaks in each show. It’s a good place to experiment, a good way to reach that elusive Gen Z audience.

If you’re a production company and you’re good with scripted and with vertical camera angles then get in touch with Snap ASAP.

If you’re Snap, you’ll want to figure out a way to attract some older people. Or maybe not. It could be fine just to be the voice of your generation. But whatever you do, own it.

Everyone else just grab the popcorn and see how this plays out.