AT&T 'Soft Launches' Video Portal
Telco's Web Site Includes Content From Broadcast, Cable Networks
By Todd Spangler 9/3/2009 5:16:37 PM EDT

AT&T has publicly launched the beta version of a video portal -- which serves up free TV shows and movies to any Internet user, and promises even more to U-verse TV customers -- with content from more than a dozen programming partners.

The AT&T Entertainment promises U-verse TV customers "bonus content" if they log in but doesn't spell out what that extra content is.

The free section of the site offers shows and movies from CBS; ABC and ABC Family; NBC and NBC Universal's USA, Bravo, Syfy and CNBC; MTV Networks' MTV and VH1; the CW; Lionsgate; MGM; Universal Studios; PBS; and Current TV. The site also lists Hulu, the joint venture of NBC, The Walt Disney Co. and News Corp., as a partner.

In an e-mailed statement, AT&T said, "We have started a soft launch of the AT&T Entertainment site. 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."

The company added, "This site is another step forward for our three-screen strategy to provide more content to more customers across any device."

Shows currently available to watch include episodes of USA's Monk, Showtime's Dexter, MTV's The Real World, ABC's Lost and Ugly Betty, NBC's The Office and 30 Rock, and CBS's How I Met Your Mother.

Free feature-length movies on AT&T Entertainment include The Breakfast Club, Along Came Polly, Carlito's Way, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Last Temptation of Christ.

AT&T in May had said it was working on an "authentication" system that would provide a TV Everywhere-like service to subscribers, with content available on both its own site and programmers' sites.

Comcast and Verizon Communications have initiated trials of services that provide additional TV shows on-demand to paying video subscribers, and Time Warner Cable expects to test its own version of TV Everywhere in the next few months.

AT&T's launch of the beta version of its entertainment portal was reported Wednesday by