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AT&T to launch video service with Chernin Group

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NEW DELHI: American telecom service provider AT&T and The Chernin Group are acquiring, launching and investing in video services.

It is understood that this will be more than a $500 million venture. The massive investment is seen as a response to the ongoing merger talks between Comcast and Time Warner Cable (TWC) and fiber-led Internet ambition of Google.

AT&T announced its video investment plan hours after Comcast shared its Q1 2014 revenue that rose 13.7 per cent to $17.4 billion. Comcast Q1 income grew 16.3 per cent to $3.56 billion. Out of this, Cable Communications revenue increased 5.3 per cent.

AT&T, which has invested more than $119 billion in the United States over the last six years, said it wants to tap the online video and OTT video market.

Comcast, which is currently negotiating a $45 billion merger with TWC, said it added 124,000 cable customers in Q1 2014 and reached 26.8 million. It added 24,000 video customers in the first quarter of 2014. The company also added 383,000 high-speed internet customers. Internet revenue growth of 9 per cent is the strongest growth rate in two years.

AT&T chief strategy officer John Stankey said: “Combining our expertise in network infrastructure, mobile, broadband and video with The Chernin Group’s management and expertise in content, distribution, and monetization models in online video creates the opportunity for us to develop a compelling offering in the OTT space.”

One-day before the video announcement, AT&T said it would expand its high speed internet network to an additional 21 cities in the American internet network. It also suggested that the online video venture will make AT&T a leader in the American broadcasting industry. It seems internet search engine Google may not be the big rival for AT&T, but Comcast and others.

The Chernin Group, which invests in media businesses, brings assets and expertise to the venture, including contribution of its majority stake in Crunchyroll, a subscription video on demand service.

This alliance positions AT&T and The Chernin Group to take advantage of the rapid growth of online video and OTT video services. The strategic goal of this initiative will be to invest in advertising and subscription VOD channels as well as streaming services.

AT&T has over 110 million wireless subscribers and more than 16 million total broadband subscribers. Video makes difference to better customer experience. At present, Google and AT&T are competing in high speed internet network roll outs. AT&T will benefit from video as it will compensate possible revenue loss from voice services. 

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