AT&T has transformed itself into a telecom and entertainment conglomerate with the purchase of Time Warner and, before that, the DirecTV satellite service. Now the company wants to change a key part of the television business. AT&T wants audience size to determine how much cable TV-like streaming services such as DirecTV Now pay to carry TV channels, rather than how many people subscribe to the services, according to a top AT&T executive.
In an interview with The Information, AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan said that “the world is moving from subscription to engagement.” Audience numbers would help AT&T decide which channels to put into the “skinny bundle” services it offers. Those streaming services carry fewer channels than traditional cable TV, but cost as little as $15 a month.