AT&T leveraging original content slate for DirecTV Now launch

Taylor Swift introduces Taylor Swift Now in a new video during AT&T's DirecTV Now launch announcement on Nov. 28. Image: AT&T / Twitter

“Are you ready?”

Taylor Swift asks the question in a new video launching Taylor Swift Now, an original content series partnering the pop star with AT&T, in its announcement of its new streaming television service DirecTV Now. The telco is also partnering with Peter Chernin and Reese Witherspoon on a cross-platform brand and content company that will bring original video-on-demand content to DirecTV and DirecTV Now next year.

Further, AT&T touted its Fullscreen service alongside the DirecTV Now launch. Fullscreen grew from a YouTube multichannel network (MCN) into a full-fledged SVOD provider that is now under the control of Otter Media, AT&T’s joint venture with Chernin. Fullscreen’s SVOD service launched earlier this year at $5.99 per month and currently offers more than 1,500 hours of ad-free scripted and unscripted original series, TV shows and films. AT&T said it will give a year of Fullscreen service to its mobile customers.

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AT&T already produces some original content, and its new slate of partnerships unveiled this week could help open doors to the more than 20 million households that are not subscribed to cable, satellite or telco subscription TV services. Taylor Swift Now is expected to reach fans with new content and commentary from Swift. Hello Sunshine, the multimedia project from Peter Chernin and Reese Witherspoon, will target “female-driven stories,” according to a news release.

“There was so little content created for women, by women,” Witherspoon said at the launch event Monday. “This is an opportunity for us to not only create television shows but also digital content and really expand that audience that is so frequently unheard, particularly in the middle of the country, and really showcasing female lifestyle and what does it mean to be an American woman.”

RELATED: DirecTV Now set to launch Wednesday; base package will deliver only 60+ channels for $35 a month

Matthew Nikman, director of equity research for telecom services at ‎Deutsche Bank, wrote in a research note to investors that DirecTV Now is AT&T’s video platform of the future and will likely replace the multiple platforms today. About half of AT&T’s current video customers already consume content via devices other than TV.

“Given AT&T’s ownership of the full software/platform stack (and a national Wireless network), it noted this is only a first iteration that it will continue to build on,” Nikman wrote. “Customization was a complementary attribute here, with AT&T highlighting the opportunity for more targeted advertising to keep subscription pricing lower.”

To be clear, though, original content represents a relatively small portion of the overall DirecTV Now offering. The service starts at $35 per month for around 60 channels—AT&T didn’t disclose channel lineups yet, but did say the “Live a Little” $35 base package doesn’t include sports networks like ESPN. 

As expected, AT&T’s DirecTV Now launch didn’t include content from CBS Corp.

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