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AT&T plans $15 monthly 'skinny bundle' TV streaming service, free to its wireless subscribers

In another salvo in the battle for the nation's cord cutters, AT&T will launch AT&T Watch soon, one of the least expensive bundles available that will directly compete with its own DirecTV Now service.

AT&T Van



The new "AT&T Watch" service, was announced in an unconventional manner, according to the Wall Street Journal: AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson described it on the witness stand, while testifying Thursday in the antitrust case involving the company's pending $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

AT&T Watch will cost $15 per month, and will launch in the coming weeks. It's not clear what will be offered as part of the bundle, but it will not include sports channels, and will also be free for AT&T Wireless subscribers.

AT&T has not as of yet issued a press release for the launch; all that's known is from media accounts of Stephenson's testimony.

The Competition



The new AT&T Watch service will have many competitors, among them another owned by AT&T: DirecTV Now, which launched in 2016 and offers tiers that start at $35 per month. Current incentives, such as a free Apple TV 4K with three months of prepaid service, make the plans even more attractive, however.

Other skinny bundles include Dish Network's Sling TV. Apple had reportedly planned a skinny bundle streaming service in 2015, but talks fell apart that year and it never launched. Amazon planned and abandoned a similar push two years later.

It's unclear what the status is of any Apple streaming service plans, although Apple's video plans for the near future appear to be focused on creation of original content versus streaming content produced by other studios.

Whether the launch of AT&T Watch is an earnest business move, or merely a ploy to appease the court and regulators to ensure that the merger goes through, is unclear. The Justice Department has sued to block the merger.