Larry Downes: “YouTube TV Improves Outlook For AT&T-Time Warner Merger” (Forbes)

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As the merger of AT&T and Time Warner makes its way through antitrust review at the Department of Justice, continued disruption in the video market improves the chances the deal will be approved. Last week, for example, YouTube announced the launch of YouTube TV, a streaming PayTV service following in the steps of similar offerings from Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now–AT&T’s own service for cord-cutters and millennials who never had a cord in the first place. These multi-channel services supplement separate and often unique video offerings from providers including Hulu, Apple, Amazon, and Netflix, which increasingly rely on original content to attract subscribers. Facebook is also beginning to invest heavily in original programming, according to recent reports. An accelerated pace of disruption in the media landscape continues to break down the traditional PayTV model, where dominant content providers such as Disney, CBS and Fox force distributors to bundle multiple channels of unrelated programming as a condition for access to the most popular show, including sports, live events, and traditional network fare. New competitive pressures coming from all sides underscore the reality that for now, at least, customized content is king.