AT&T and WarnerMedia Announce Closure of Classic Movie Streaming Service ‘FilmStruck’

It's now been just over four months since AT&T completed its acquisition of Time Warner, and today AT&T has made a move to streamline WarnerMedia assets with the discontinuation of classic film streaming service FilmStruck. The service is now warning visitors to its website that it will be shutting down on November 29, 2018, and as of today is no longer enrolling new subscribers (via Variety).

FilmStruck was available on iOS and tvOS, but it appears that the app has been removed from both App Stores. On iOS, a search for "FilmStruck" guides users to TCM's new streaming app Watch TCM.


All current FilmStruck subscribers will receive an email with more details, including potential refunds, and the company put together a list of FAQs for more information. FilmStruck will remain in operation for the next month, and in a tweet the company said, "It has been our pleasure bringing FilmStruck to you and we thank you for your support."

FilmStruck debuted in November 2016, offering a lineup of nearly 2,000 classic, indie, foreign, and cult films, as well as acting as the streaming home to the Criterion Collection. Subscribers paid $6.99/month for the service, or $10.99/month for the service with access to the Criterion Collection. Films available on FilmStruck include the original "A Star is Born", "Casablanca", "The Music Man," and many more.

According to a statement provided by Turner and WB Digital Networks, FilmStruck remained a niche service for its entire lifetime, leading to the discontinuation.
“We’re incredibly proud of the creativity and innovations produced by the talented and dedicated teams who worked on FilmStruck over the past two years. While FilmStruck has a very loyal fanbase, it remains largely a niche service. We plan to take key learnings from FilmStruck to help shape future business decisions in the direct-to-consumer space and redirect this investment back into our collective portfolios.”
A few other WarnerMedia digital services have been shut down following the AT&T acquisition, including the Korean drama-focused DramaFever and digital content TV studio Super Deluxe. According to a source familiar with AT&T's strategy, "They felt Time Warner overall had too many initiatives," leading to the pruning of services that lack broad appeal.

Turner Classic Movies offers an alternative for Apple TV owners with the recently launched "Watch TCM" tvOS app. Unlike FilmStruck's separate monthly streaming service cost, Watch TCM is an app that users can connect to their cable subscriptions to watch "nearly every title playing on TCM."

Before FilmStruck goes away for good, the Criterion Collection promises that it will keep subscribers informed about the programming they can watch on the service before it shuts down in late November. Looking forward, the company will be trying to find ways to "bring our library and original content back to the digital space as soon as possible."


Discuss this article in our forums

AT&T’s WarnerMedia to Launch New Streaming Service in Fourth Quarter of 2019

AT&T's WarnerMedia is working on its own streaming service to compete with Netflix, Hulu, Disney, and others, the company announced today.

According to AT&T, the upcoming streaming service is "another benefit" of the merger between AT&T and Time Warner. AT&T says it is committed to launching a "compelling and competitive product" that helps the company expand its reach.


AT&T's streaming service will include the WarnerMedia collection of films, television series, animation, documentaries, and more. The plan is to "create such a compelling product" that it will help distributors increase customer penetration and help AT&T reach additional customers.

AT&T already owns DirecTV and offers live streaming content through DirecTV Now, HBO Go, and HBO Now.

At the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit on Wednesday, WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey said that HBO will be a "lead brand" in the new service. From CNBC:
"Around HBO will come a great library of additional content from not only the WarnerMedia properties but also some selective third party licensed content," Stankey said. "And the driver behind this is really straight forward. We know there's customers who love to engage with our content -- we've got a great history of building it -- much of which they can't get in one place."
Along with HBO, the service will include content from Turner and Warner Bros.

According to Stankey, the new streaming service will feature a "compelling price point" when it launches in the fourth quarter of 2019.


Discuss this article in our forums

U.S. DoJ Says Ruling Approving AT&T-Time Warner Merger Ignored ‘Fundamental Principles of Economics and Common Sense’

The U.S. Department of Justice today filed an appeal with the District of Columbia Appeals Court protesting the June ruling that allowed the merger between AT&T and Time Warner to move forward, reports The Washington Post.

In the filing, the DoJ says the district court approved the merger after "erroneously ignoring fundamental principles of economics and common sense" and that it used a "deeply flawed assessment of the government's evidence" to reach its decision.


According to the DoJ, AT&T's access to Time Warner's content, including the highly important Turner Broadcasting System, which includes CNN, Cartoon Network, TBS, TNT, and other networks, gives it bargaining leverage over rivals, which could drive up access fees, ultimately resulting in higher prices for consumers.

The original ruling approving the merger, says the DoJ, ignored key documents from AT&T on the competitive harm of vertical mergers, limited expert economic testimony, and refused to close the courtroom to allow for testimony related to confidential business information. Further, the DoJ insists the original ruling ignored the economics of bargaining and did not consider corporate profit maximization.
The government established a reasonable probability that the AT&T-Time Warner merger would increase Time Warner's bargaining leverage and, thus, substantially lessen competition, in violation of Section 7 of the Clayton Act.

The district court's contrary conclusion rests on two fundamental analytical errors: it discarded the economics of bargaining, and it failed to apply the foundational principle of corporate-wide profit maximization. These errors colored the court's view of the facts, leading to a decision that is clearly erroneous in light of the evidence presented at trial.
The Department of Justice is asking the appeals court to vacate the district court's ruling and remand the matter for further proceedings.

AT&T and Time Warner completed their merger in June following the judge's ruling that the merger was legal. The Justice Department said at the time that it was disappointed in the court's ruling and would consider its next steps, but allowed the merger to move forward and did not file an emergency stay.

While the merger is finished, the Department of Justice remains able to appeal the judge's ruling and first announced plans to do so back in mid-July.

Shortly after acquiring Time Warner, AT&T announced a new WatchTV service allowing AT&T wireless subscribers with new "AT&T Unlimited &More" and "AT&T Unlimited &More Premium" plans access to more than 30 live channels and 15,000 TV shows and movies on demand.

AT&T's plans are more expensive than previous unlimited wireless plans, but they include WatchTV, which AT&T charges $15 per month for on a standalone basis.

Though AT&T said that its prices would not increase following the merger, it raised prices on its DirecTV Now plans by $5. AT&T also recently raised its administrative fees for postpaid wireless subscribers to $1.99, which some analysts have speculated is to make up for the expense of the Time Warner purchase.


Discuss this article in our forums

U.S. Department of Justice Files Appeal to Block AT&T and Time Warner Merger

A month after a judge approved AT&T's $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner with no conditions, the United States Department of Justice has announced plans to appeal the merger's approval.


In a court document filed with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the DoJ announced its formal appeal. No additional data was included in the initial document.
Notice is hereby given that the United States of America, plaintiff in the above named case, appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from the final judgment entered in this action on June 12, 2018.
AT&T first announced its plan to purchase Time Warner in late 2017, but the acquisition was put on hold when the DoJ filed a lawsuit to put a stop to the merger based on the grounds that it would result in higher bills and fewer options for consumers.

A judge in June, however, ruled that the merger was legal, and while the Justice Department said it was disappointed in the court's ruling and would consider its next steps "in light of [its] commitment to preserving competition for the benefit of American consumers," it ultimately decided not to interfere with a stay at the time that the ruling was announced.

Just days after the judge's approval, AT&T completed its acquisition of Time Warner, but the DoJ is still able to appeal the decision even after the completion of the merger.

Shortly after the acquisition, AT&T announced a new WatchTV service that offers AT&T wireless subscribers under the new "AT&T Unlimited &More" and "AT&T Unlimited &More Premium" plans access to more than 30 live channels and 15,000 TV shows and movies on demand. These new plans are more expensive than AT&T's previous unlimited wireless plans, but includes WatchTV. On a standalone basis, WatchTV is $15 per month.


While AT&T said that its prices would not increase following the merger, it raised prices on its DirecTV Now plans by $5. AT&T also recently raised its administrative fees for postpaid wireless subscribers to $1.99, which some analysts have speculated is to make up for the expense of the Time Warner purchase.

Update: AT&T has released a statement on the DoJ's decision to appeal: "The Court's decision could hardly have been more thorough, fact-based, and well-reasoned. While the losing party in litigation always has the right to appeal if it wishes, we are surprised the DoJ has chosen to do so under these circumstances. We are ready to defend the court's decision at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals."


Discuss this article in our forums

AT&T and Warner Media Leadership Outline Changes Coming to HBO Over the Next Year

On June 19, former AT&T executive and new chief executive of Warner Media John Stankey spoke to a group of HBO employees about changes coming to the premium cable company in the near future. The discussion was held in the wake of AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner, which owns HBO, and also included HBO's chief executive officer Richard Plepler.

The telecommunications company previously stated that it would take a "hands-off approach" to running HBO, but The New York Times this weekend reported on Stankey's speech and it sounds like that might not be the case. According to a video of the discussion, Stankey explained Warner Media's intent to align HBO more alongside streaming companies like Netflix in order to increase its subscriber base, although he refrained from referencing Netflix by name.


This means creating more content that releases at a faster pace, in comparison to HBO's current stable of limited Sunday night-focused shows. According to Stankey, the goal is to increase the hours per day viewers watch HBO, which is currently less than rivals like Netflix and Hulu because of HBO's smaller catalog.
“We need hours a day,” Mr. Stankey said, referring to the time viewers spend watching HBO programs. “It’s not hours a week, and it’s not hours a month. We need hours a day. You are competing with devices that sit in people’s hands that capture their attention every 15 minutes.”
Continuing this thread, Stankey specifically stated that more hours of user engagement means that Warner Media can "get more data and information" to monetize through advertisements and new subscription options.
“I want more hours of engagement. Why are more hours of engagement important? Because you get more data and information about a customer that then allows you to do things like monetize through alternate models of advertising as well as subscriptions, which I think is very important to play in tomorrow’s world.”
As the discussion continued, Stankey appeared to have butted heads slightly with Plepler on the topic of HBO's monetization, which Stankey believes can be increased through his new methods. Plepler claimed that the company is already a consistent moneymaker, to which Stankey responded: "Yes, yes you do... Just not enough."

Stankey and Warner Media hope that an increased output of original content will boost HBO's 40 million paid subscribers in the United States, which Stankey said as of now "was not going to cut it." Comparatively, Netflix earlier this year had 55 million U.S. subscribers and Hulu in May had 20 million.

HBO's business currently expands across paid cable add-on packages, the connected HBO GO app, and standalone HBO NOW app. Stankey said that Warner Media's plans will kick off soon and "there's going to be more work" for HBO employees over the next twelve months, which he called a "dog year."

While Apple wasn't mentioned in the discussion, the Cupertino company is another upcoming competitor in the streaming TV market, with plans to debut more than a dozen television shows beginning sometime in 2019. Although the distribution of these shows remains unclear, the company is rumored to be planning a bundle with original TV content, Apple Music, and more.


Discuss this article in our forums

AT&T Follows Time Warner Acquisition With Reveal of Live ‘WatchTV’ Service and New Unlimited Phone Plans

One week after completing its acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T today announced the impending launch of an all-new live TV service called "WatchTV," which unsurprisingly includes many channels under the Time Warner umbrella (via Engadget). This appears to be the service not focused on sports that AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in April would be coming very soon.

The announcement came alongside AT&T's reveal of two new unlimited wireless plans, called "AT&T Unlimited &More" and "AT&T Unlimited &More Premium." WatchTV will be directly tied into these cellular plans, offering plan subscribers access to the TV service at no additional cost.


The service includes 30+ live channels, over 15,000 TV shows and movies on demand, and will be available on "virtually every" smartphone, tablet, browser, and streaming device. Subscribers to &More Premium will be able to add one of several premium services for no extra charge: HBO, SHOWTIME, Cinemax, Starz, Amazon Music Unlimited, Pandora Premium, or VRV.

Here's the full list of channels available on WatchTV at launch:
  • A&E

  • AMC

  • Animal Planet

  • Audience

  • BBC World News

  • BBC America

  • Boomerang

  • Cartoon Network

  • CNN

  • Discovery

  • Food Network

  • FYI

  • Hallmark Channel

  • Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

  • HGTV

  • History
  • HLN

  • IFC

  • Investigation Discovery

  • Lifetime

  • Lifetime Movies

  • OWN

  • Sundance TV

  • TBS

  • TCM

  • TLC

  • TNT

  • TRU TV

  • Velocity

  • Viceland

  • WE TV
Channels coming soon after launch include:
  • BET

  • Comedy Central

  • MTV 2

  • Nicktoons

  • Teennick

  • VH1
The &More Premium plan (starting at $80/month for an individual line) offers WatchTV, a premium service add-on, 15GB of high-speed tethering, access to 1080p high definition video, and a $15 monthly credit to put towards DirecTV, DirecTV Now, or U-verse TV, similar to the carrier's current unlimited plans. On the lower tier, &More (starting at $70/month) offers WatchTV, a $15 monthly credit to DirecTV Now, access to 480p video, and up to 4G LTE unlimited data.

AT&T didn't give many other details about the new unlimited plans, but said that more information will be coming when they launch, which is expected sometime next week. Additionally, the company confirmed that WatchTV will be available as a $15/month standalone live TV streaming service for those not on an AT&T unlimited cellular plan, and those details will also come at a later time.


Discuss this article in our forums

AT&T Completes Acquisition of Time Warner

AT&T this afternoon announced that it has completed its acquisition of Time Warner, just two days after a U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the merger could move forward.
"The content and creative talent at Warner Bros., HBO and Turner are first-rate. Combine all that with AT&T's strengths in direct-to-consumer distribution, and we offer customers a differentiated, high-quality, mobile-first entertainment experience," said Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T Inc. "We're going to bring a fresh approach to how the media and entertainment industry works for consumers, content creators, distributors and advertisers."
The news comes after the United States Justice Department said that it would not seek a stay to stop the merger from happening. The DoJ can, however, appeal the decision if it chooses to do so even after the completion of the merger.

In a statement earlier this week, the DoJ said it believes that the merger between the two companies will make the pay TV market "less competitive and less innovative."

AT&T's purchase of Time Warner had been on hold since November, when the Justice Department filed a lawsuit to put a stop to it based on the argument that it would lead to higher bills and fewer options for consumers.

AT&T's successful acquisition of Time Warner and the judge's ruling in favor of the two companies has already had an impact on the television market, with Comcast moving forward with a $65 billion all-cash offer for Fox's assets.


Discuss this article in our forums

U.S. Justice Department Files Lawsuit to Block Merger Between AT&T and Time Warner

The United States Justice Department today filed a lawsuit to stop a planned merger between AT&T and Time Warner, reports Bloomberg. The DOJ believes such a merger would result in higher bills and fewer options for consumers.
"This merger would greatly harm American consumers. It would mean higher monthly television bills and fewer of the new, emerging innovative options that consumers are beginning to enjoy," said Makan Delrahim, the head of the department's antitrust division.
According to Bloomberg, this is the first time in several decades that the DOJ has sued to block a vertical deal, aka a merger between two companies that do not directly compete with one another. The lawsuit comes following a request from antitrust head Delrahim that the two companies sell either the Turner broadcasting unit or DirecTV, which AT&T refused to do.

Given that the DOJ does not usually step in to block vertical deals, it is unclear how this legal battle will play out in court. Other similar deals, such as Comcast's purchase of NBC Universal, have gone through after certain conditions have been put in place.

AT&T and Time Warner have been in talks over a merger since late 2016, with AT&T planning to shell out $85.4 billion for Time Warner.

AT&T says the DOJ's lawsuit is a "radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent," and that it is confident the court will reject the claims and allow the merger to proceed.

Apple at one time was rumored to be interested in a Time Warner purchase and was said to have monitored the deal between AT&T/Time Warner closely, but Apple ultimately had no interest in Time Warner or outbidding AT&T.


Discuss this article in our forums