Tuesday, 18 September, 2018

Warner Media CEO told HBO employees to anticipate a tough year

Warner Media Exec John Stankey On Changes At HBO: “It’s Going To Be A Tough Year” HBO must 'change direction' to flourish, says its new boss
Charles Bowen | 13 July, 2018, 00:57

AT&T is, of course, the new owner of HBO so it can do pretty much as it pleases.

HBO now has a Watchmen series in the works as well as a Game of Thrones prequel. Well now we get to find out because AT&T has bought it and recently served notice that things are going to have to change around here.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group John Stankey speaks onstage during AT&T's celebration of the Launch of DIRECTV NOW at Venue 57 on November 28, 2016 in New York City. While HBO is an ad-free service, its new parent AT&T is rapidly working on building its advertising and analytics business to be more automated and allow marketers to more precisely target audiences and deliver specific messages to households.

"It's going to be a tough year", said Stankey. He went on to clarify, "It's going to be a lot of work to alter and change direction a little bit".

"We need hours a day", Stankey said, referring to viewer engagement with HBO. "It's not hours a week, and it's not hours a month", he said.

"We need hours a day", he said. "You are competing with devices that sit in people's hands that capture their attention every 15 minutes", said Stankey.

In case a wholesale switch to quantitative KPIs wasn't entirely self-explanatory, Stankey persisted. We need hours a day.

He continued: "As I step back and think about what's unique about the brand and where it needs to go, there's got to be a little more depth to it, there's got to be more frequent engagement".

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If comments like that don't get the HBO incumbents pumped then we don't know what will.

Only time will tell what changes the high-profile merger will actually bring about to the network, but viewers can most definitely expect some significant differences as well as new additions.

It basically sounds like Stankey, who now oversees HBO as chief executive of the newly formed Warner Media, wants the network to greatly expand its subscriber base, the number of hours its subscribers spend watching its shows, and of course, the amount of money HBO pulls in. But Stankey said producing more content is a key strategy in attracting more subscribers and convincing them to watch longer.

Marketwatch has the details on AT&T's plans for HBO.

Stankey did not say how much AT&T is willing to invest and he did not mention Netflix by name, but it's pretty clear what the exec was hinting at. They set aside $2-billion Dollars for their TV shows, still making around $6-billion USD in profits.

I've said, 'More is not better, only better is better, ' because that was the hand we had. But it's safe to say that there are changes ahead for HBO and its shows.

Stankey reiterated that the first year under AT&T's ownership could be tough for HBO employees.

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