John Stankey predicts 'tough year ahead' for HBO

Angelo Anderson
July 13, 2018

Since there has yet to be any discussion of increasing HBO's budget - AT&T went significantly into debt to purchase Time Warner - the assumption is the network must do more with its current budget. 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.

AT&T wants HBO to be more like Netflix - at least that's the vibe that was given off by its new corporate boss at a recent town hall meeting for HBO employees.

Back in June, the mammoth merger between AT&T and Time Warner was approved, giving AT&T heaps of new assets to make money off of and expand.

The premium cable network known for hits such as "Game of Thrones" and "Westworld" is going to face "a tough year" ahead as it changes direction under AT&T Inc.

He reportedly added that he wants more hours of engagement. "It's not hours a week, and it's not hours a month". Why do we need other properties, have interesting ways for customers to navigate and get to them easily? "You are competing with devices that sit in people's hands that capture their attention every 15 minutes", he said.

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

Stankey said viewers need to spend "hours a day" watching HBO programs, according to the report. "Why are more hours of engagement important?", Stankey explained. Because you get more data and information about a customer that then allows you to do things like monetize through alternate models of advertising as well as subscription, which I think is very important to play in tomorrow's world.

Plepler talked about HBO's programming and their "bespoke culture" with prize shows like Big Little Lies and the critically acclaimed Barry and Insecure.


Stankey seems to be angling toward pushing streaming services more to compete with the likes of Netflix and Hulu, though those competitors were never mentioned by name.

"The good news for many of you in this organization is that it's not Fox or Disney sitting up on this stage now", said Stankey.

"It's going to be a tough year", Stankey said.

HBO has 40 million subscribers in the USA and 142 million worldwide, but Stankey said that AT&T intends to make HBO "a much more common product".

Does Stankey want to turn HBO into Netflix?

"I've said, 'More is not better, only better is better, ' because that was the hand we had", Plepler said.

Though much of the meeting's contents were vague - neither Stankey or Plepler seemed to announce any concrete changes coming to HBO - it's clear that the company's content will be changing quite a bit moving forward.

These were the words of John Stankey, the longtime AT&T executive who is now in charge of HBO as the chief executive of Warner Media.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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