AT&T (T - Free Report) recently announced that its WarnerMedia business will roll out a streaming service in spring 2020 with an unrivaled bouquet of premium and exclusive content for an impressive direct-to-consumer experience across the age group. Dubbed HBO Max, the strategic move will equip the company to play catch-up with avant-garde media firms, like Netflix, Inc. (NFLX - Free Report) and The Walt Disney Company (DIS - Free Report) , to secure a bigger pie of the streaming service market.
With its commercial debut, HBO Max will offer about 10,000 hours of premium content, leveraging an extensive collection of exclusive original programs and the most sought-after shows from WarnerMedia’s vast portfolio of beloved brands and libraries. These include the exclusive streaming rights for popular shows such as “Friends”, “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and “Pretty Little Liars”. In addition, it will showcase programming from Warner Bros., New Line, DC Entertainment, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, The CW, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth and Looney Tunes.
Earlier, AT&T has restructured its WarnerMedia business and fine-tuned the company’s operating model with the evolving needs of customers, in a concerted effort to focus more on video streaming service. As part of the overhaul process of the newly-minted WarnerMedia unit, AT&T has also consolidated all its affiliates and ad sales groups under a unified platform, with its units organized under entertainment networks, live programming, content production, and affiliate and advertising sales.
AT&T has been ramping up its streaming services with the launch of live TV channels DirecTV Now in 2016, and a cheaper live-TV service WatchTV in 2018. With modest successes in both these ventures and continued subscriber loss in its DirecTV satellite TV business as users tend to shift to Internet video services, AT&T intends to focus more on video streaming content. With the launch of HBO Max, while continuing with HBO Now as a separate subscription-based streaming service, AT&T aims to bring stiff competition to its rivals.
Despite such innovative products and services, the stock has underperformed the industry with an average return of 5.2% over the past year, while the latter has rallied 9.8%.
AT&T presently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A better-ranked stock in the industry is Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ - Free Report) , carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Verizon has a long-term earnings growth expectation of 4.3%. It topped estimates in each of the trailing four quarters, the average positive earnings surprise being 3.3%.
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