Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Another Video Site We Don’t Need: AT&T Entertainment

lots_of_tvsThere is no shortage of places to watch TV shows free on the Web. There’s a glut of them, really. But here comes another: AT&T Entertainment.

What is it? A TV (and movie) portal that looks more or less like every other TV (and movie) portal on the Web: Hulu,,, Fancast, etc.

The only reason for AT&T (T) to launch its own portal now would be as a placeholder until it launches its own “TV Everywhere” play, where subscribers to its  “U-Verse” TV service would get Web access to cable shows. That’s the same strategy that Comcast (CMCSA), Time Warner Cable (TWC), Verizon (VZ) and everyone else in the pay TV business is trying.

But while AT&T will likely be doing the same, this site isn’t for that. At least, not according to the note AT&T sent to NewTeeVee, which makes it sound like the company is creating…another free Web TV portal:

We have started a soft launch of a new site called AT&T Entertainment. This site will feature free online content available to any consumer. We’re finalizing a few final elements, and we’ll share more details on our official launch soon.

Allrighty, then. As AT&T says, it’s a soft launch, so maybe when it’s ready for primetime, things will make more sense. But for now it’s a head-scratcher.

One thing that distinguishes AT&T’s site from, say, Hulu: Hulu lets you embed clips from the site on your blog, while AT&T’s site, which relies on Hulu for much of its content, doesn’t. So here’s an awesome, upsetting clip you can see on AT&T’s site, but can only embed by heading to Hulu. Makes sense, right?

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work