For several years now, many AT&T subscribers have been given access to HBO and/or DirecTV video subscriptions. But, since the company has moved away from its media ambitions, the company has announced that these promotions and any like it are over forever.
This move comes along with the company realigning its subscription offerings. In the past, the company offered the Elite plan, which came with unlimited talk, text, data, and 4K video streaming for $85 per month for a single line. In that plan, subscribers also got a subscription to HBO Max. Now, the company is changing its plan, retiring Elite in favor of Unlimited Premium. The plan still offers unlimited talk, text, data, and 4K video streaming for $85 per month for a single line. However, it no longer includes the HBO Max subscription and, instead, adds 10GB of mobile hotspot.
It's not a huge surprise that AT&T would make this change. AT&T has recently divested itself of WarnerMedia, merging it with Discovery Networks to form Warner Bros Discovery. With the transference of control over the service, the company no longer has an incentive to include HBO Max with the mobile subscription. Previously, the company was using this promotion to increase the number of subscribers for both HBO and DirecTV streaming services in order to improve their own stock performance. However, without that benefit, the loss of the promotion is understandable.
But wait - doesn't T-Mobile offer Apple TV+ to its subscribers? Doesn't Verizon offer Disney+? Didn't Sprint offer Hulu to its subscribers? Neither of those brands had direct corporate interactions, and yet they offered those features to subscribers. Is it possible that AT&T could simply change its subscription service and offer something else? Well, AT&T has said that they are currently not planning to return to offering a video streaming service.
Instead, AT&T is offering gaming services in its stead. AT&T has been offering a 6-month subscription to Google Stadia Pro for a year and plans to continue that offer. The company has had a relationship with Stadia because of its Batman: Arkham Knight promotion. In addition, the company offers subscribers 6 months of NVIDIA GeForce Now, a direct Google Stadia competitor.
Even with this gaming promotion, it's hard to ignore that they are competing with the other carriers without one of the core offerings that the others have. It's possible that they are hoping that being different will assist with customer growth, but game streaming services simply are not understood enough by consumers to draw new customers in. The number of users who will be excited about Google Stadia is far lower than the number of people who would be excited about HBO Max, Netflix, or another service.
So, will AT&T stick to its plans and remove video streaming long term, or will the experiment show enough of a change in subscriber growth to change the plans? Only time will tell, but the smart money is on the company looking for a new streaming partner very soon.