AT&T to launch web TV service

AT&T, the biggest US telecommunications group, is to launch an internet TV service that will enable subscribers to view a selection of live and streamed TV channels on their PC over any wired or wireless broadband connection for $20 a month.

The browser-based service, dubbed AT&T Broadband, will be announced on Tuesday and will be the first of its kind in the US. The US carrier has teamed up with MobiTV, the fast growing California-based mobile TV content aggregator, to deliver the service.

“The AT&T Broadband TV service is part of our ‘three screen’ [phone, PC and TV] initiative,” said Dan York, AT&T’s senior vice-president of programming. “It will enable our customers to watch live television programming beyond the TV screen, on a PC when and where they want.”

The launch comes amid an explosion of internet-based video content services including user-generated video sites such as YouTube and Google Video, and TV and movie download services including Amazon’s Unbox, launched last week.

Apple Computer is also on Tuesday expected to announce an iTunes movie download service and already offers iPod users clips of popular TV shows. But the AT&T service goes a step further by offering live programming available at the same time as it is broadcast, or carried over cable and satellite services to PC users.

The big US telecoms groups have also been rolling out mobile TV services to 3G subscribers. According to figures released on Monday by Telephia, a communications and new media research firm, the US mobile TV audience grew by 45 per cent to 3.7m subscribers in the second quarter, and mobile TV revenues grew to $86m, up 67 per cent over the first quarter of this year.

The AT&T Broadband TV service will initially have approximately 20 channels of live and made-for-broadband television content spanning national news, sports, entertainment and full-length music videos.

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