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AT&T raises TV Everywhere ante with Apple Watch app, more channels

ATT Uverse

AT&T U-verse app.

AT&T’s update of its U-verse mobile application to add more channels and to work with the Apple Watch focuses attention on the telecommunications company’s heated rivalry with Verizon for mobile-first TV everywhere programs. 

The updates add 26 more live channels for viewing outside the home, including FX, HBO2, National Geographic Channel and BabyFirst TV while allowing the U-verse App to work with the Apple Watch as a remote control, receive notifications about upcoming programming and manage DVR recordings. The moves follow Verizon’s announcement of a mobile-first Netflix-like service for live and on-demand programming, aimed, like AT&T’s updates, at bringing in the growing cadre of young cord-cutters.

The updates add 26 more live channels, including National Geographic Channel, FX and HBO2 while allowing the U-verse App to work with the Apple Watch as a remote control, receive notifications about upcoming programming and manage DVR recordings.  The moves follow Verizon’s announcement of mobile-first Netflix-like service for live and on-demand programming, aimed, like AT&T’s updates, at bringing in the growing cadre of young cord-cutters. 

“Wherever the content goes, so do the customers, and it appears AT&T is taking the competition very seriously,” said Ken Wisnefski, founder and CEO of WebiMax.

Scaling up
The update makes 202 outside-the-home channels available via the U-verse app, alongside 242 channels inside the home.

Scaling up on mobile video.

The moves reflect efforts to scale up on video in recognition of the critical role it promises to play on mobile. Forrester predicts the end of TV’s media supremacy as early as next year, and that by 2019 digital spend will top $100 billion to TV’s $90 billion.  

“Moves like what we are seeing from AT&T are key for companies wanting to play a larger role in our media future, especially as it relates to video,” Mr. Wisnefski said.

AT&T’s smartwatch app update comes two months after Apple’s launch of its smartwatch, kicking wearables into high gear and triggering hundreds of related apps.

“An app that provides the ability to use a smartwatch as a remote control wouldn’t seem to make or break a video app on another device,” Mr. Wisnefski said. “However, there is a lot of room for growth in the market for smartwatch apps, and companies that are experimenting with ways to incorporate the tech could gain a foothold in deciding how the tech is largely used or at very least will have less catching up to do later.”

Verizon’s announced mobile-first video product will launch in the United States this summer and be supported by ads. While advertisers are expected to subsidize some of the cost, consumers could be asked to pay a monthly fee, something that may not appeal to consumers increasingly used to a la carte offerings. 

Verizon’s new mobile video service could simply be a way for the company to test the underlying technology as it continues to try to scale up on video in recognition of the critical role it will play on mobile.

The idea for Verizon’s new service, which the company is referring to a mobile-first video product - is that users will be able to watch TV from whatever device they prefer – which increasingly means mobile. 

Verizon also said that ad-sponsored data will be part of the product. 

Big thing
Marketers today have to be careful trying to keep up with all the different avenues and figuring out which ones are the most engaging for audiences. 

Expanding options in an age of consumer choice.

“The next big thing seems to come out every other day, but those advances have a responsibility, I think, to prove their value to the market,” Mr. Wisnefski said.  

“We know the prediction that TV is going extinct and digital will overtake it. But exactly what players will end up dominating the field in say, five years, leads to a lot of conjecture, as does marketers trying to imagine what their jobs might look like,” he said.
 
Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York 

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Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.

 
Related content: Telecommunications, AT and T, Verizon, mobile, mobile commerce, mobile marketing

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