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AT&T and NBCU Drag Viewers Into the Age of Experimentation

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HBO Go, HBO Prime, HBO Now, and HBO Max. Can you say for sure which of those I just made up?

The answer is the second one, but it points out the surfeit of goodness we're all experiencing. How can households keep track of their streaming options when they can't even tell the three HBO services apart?

BlogWe got more good/bad news this week, as AT&T and NBCUniversal both dropped news on upcoming streaming services. In an earnings call, AT&T said it will start offering a new streaming service in select markets this fall. While details are scarce, it sounds like AT&T TV will be a streaming replacement for DirecTV satellite service. How it will differ from AT&T's DirecTV Now I can't yet say.

NBCU will launch an ad-supported streaming service in April. It first talked up the option in January, but gave new details this week. The new serivce will be free with pay TV authentication, available for a monthly fee to everyone else, and carry original programming. It might become a home for cancelled NBC series, like A.P. Bio. Eventually, it will be the exclusive home to the American version of The Office.

I didn't notice any celebrations greeting these two new services. In fact, it feels like nobody wants them. There's too much at the buffet already. Thanks, but we're stuffed.

I see people going negative about all the new premium OTT services on the market, and I get it. We can't watch all the shows we want to watch already. We're staying up late to squeeze in one more episode of The Handmaid's Tale. We can't possibly take even more original series that everyone will be talking about.

I get it, but it won't always be this way. We're in the age of experimentation now. Companies see OTT as a gold mine and they're rushing to stake a claim. This period won't go other forever. Another couple years and things will start to settle down. Consumers are voting with their wallets, and they can't support all these services. Before long, the winners will emerge, the losers will ebb away, and we'll get back to the new normal. There will still be more good shows around than you have time to watch, but it won't be as bad as it is now.

And hopefully, things will calm down before HBO Prime becomes a reality.

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