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AT&T: Streaming Towards an OTT Future

The Internet has captured a large portion of screen time from television, and has more or less become the de facto means of media consumption. With an increasing number of over-the-top (OTT) subscription services, various providers are finding ways to maximize revenues and expand their customer base. The space is undergoing a rapid transformation as companies are either collaborating and partnering with other companies or going the M&A route, to create attractive product offerings with the eventual aim of capturing an increased market share.

According to Convergence Research via AdWeek, the number of OTT subscribers is expected to surpass linear TV subscribers by 2020. The number of traditional TV subscribers in 2016 outnumbered OTT subscribers by approximately 30 million. This gap was reduced in 2018 with more than 10 million new subscribers being added to OTT services while linear television lost about four million subscribers. While OTT service providers such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are the major players in the area, new entrants are joining the fray. Apple is planning to introduce its video subscription service which will feature Apple’s original content and access to existing digital services via a subscription platform.

AT&T too plans to introduce its own video streaming service. The company is set to launch a direct-to-consumer service, which will stream content from the WarnerMedia library. AT&T acquired Time-Warner in 2016 to expand its audience engagement (the deal closed in 2018). AT&T Inc. is a communications holding company. The company, through its subsidiaries and affiliates, provides local and long-distance phone service, wireless and data communications, Internet access and messaging, IP-based and satellite television, security services, telecommunications equipment, and directory advertising and publishing.

In this report, we study AT&T’s patent assets and compare its portfolio in different technology categories with those of its competitors across relevant sectors.

General Trends

Published Applications – Growth [Click on the image to enlarge]

AT&T has a patent portfolio of 17,064 currently active published patent applications. Figure 1 shows that the patent applications have grown steadily over the last two decades and exhibit a sharp growth post 2015. The patent filings peaked in 2018 with a total of 2,488 patent applications.

Figure 2: Key Geographies [Click on the image to enlarge]



US is the preferred jurisdiction for AT&T’s patent filings, as seen in Figure 2, with a total of 14, 481 active patent applications.












Technology Trends  

Figure 3: Technologies cited by FC Assignees [Click on the image to enlarge]

AT&T has a history of innovation ranging from transistors to fiber optic cables, communications satellites to data transmission, and vehicle telematics to artificial intelligence. Its patent portfolio has been heavily cited by other competing players. Figure 3 gives the number of times each of their competitors have cited AT&T’s portfolio in different sub-technologies.

Figure 4: Patent Quality by Sub-technologies [Click on the image to enlarge]

The company’s growing patent portfolio has maintained its quality over the years. 

The average patent quality of the portfolio is relatively high. The portfolio has an average Relecura Star rating of 2.69 out of 5. Typically, a patent with a Relecura Star rating of 3 or more is deemed as one of high-quality. Figure 4 shows the quality spread of its patents in different sub-technologies. It is also seen that a significant number of the high value patents belong to the data switching networks technology category.

AT&T to launch a video streaming service

AT&T is planning to launch an OTT video service by the end of this year, which will stream content from WarnerMedia. The company intends to build an attractive offering in order to expand its customer reach and to compete with the other streaming service providers. The company is focusing on shifting the way HBO delivers content to the consumers by including movies and animated programs from the WarnerMedia catalog.

AT&T has said that WarnerMedia’s SVOD service will come with three subscription options, starting with the “entry-level movie-focused package.” It will also feature “a premium service with original programming and blockbuster movies” and a third option “that bundles content from the first two plus an extensive library of WarnerMedia and licensed content.”

A competitor analysis of AT&T and WarnerMedia’s combined patent assets shows that WarnerMedia enhances AT&T’s patent position in areas related to TV and video-on-demand. 

It is also observed that the combined portfolio of AT&T and WarnerMedia leads from an IP standpoint, against its competitors from the telecom, cable entertainment and video streaming sectors. 

Read our complete report to get more insights into AT&T’s patent assets and how the combined portfolios of AT&T and WarnerMedia stacks up against its competitors.

Read the Report.  

The contents of this report were referenced in an IAM article. To read the article, click here

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