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Video services

The Fantastic Four

2:15 PM -- The deal was announced three months ago, but AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s Mobility and Consumer Markets unit and DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) have officially launched a new service package that pairs up the satellite giant's video service with the telco's broadband, phone, and, yes, wireless service -- allowing them to market a coveted "quadruple play" bundle. (See AT&T/DirecTV Do 'Quad-Play' and DirecTV Wins AT&T Sweepstakes.)

They'll hawk this new service package under the AT&T|DIRECTV banner in 22 states where AT&T already offers residential broadband and voice services. The added promise is that they'll bridge the wireless, wired, and satellite worlds, enabling AT&T|DIRECTV to pipe in video seamlessly to the elusive "three screens" -- TVs, PCs, and advanced handsets – a differentiator AT&T foreshadowed at the TelcoTV show last November. (See Cable Scouting Report: TelcoTV '08.)

This offering, of course, will come into play more often in areas where AT&T doesn't already deliver its own IPTV service. Given the option, AT&T no doubt would rather see customers get all four services from it, rather than having to share a slice of the revenue pie with DirecTV.

DirecTV didn't let this launch go by without needling the MSOs a bit, claiming that its new quad-play package with AT&T will give consumers "an integrated bundle of services that blows cable away."

At this point, the cable industry doesn’t seem overly concerned about not having a wireless service component, at least not yet. Following the scrapped "Pivot" project with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), Cox Communications Inc. is embarking on its own wireless plans, while other former Pivot partners are placing a big bet on the future of WiMax. Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), meanwhile, is firmly fixed on a WiFi initiative. (See MSOs Pivoting Away From Sprint JV, Cable Plays Clearwire Card, Cox Wireless: Soup to Nuts , and Cablevision Plays WiFi Card .)

Although DirecTV put cable in the crosshairs today, most analysts hold that Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) will be the one feeling the pinch in the short-term, because it's believed that roughly 15 percent of Dish's gross subscriber additions had been coming by way of its former partnership with AT&T. (See DirecTV's Gain Could Result in Dish Losses.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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