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AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson: Netflix Is ‘Walmart’ of SVOD, HBO Is ‘Tiffany’

Chairman has no concerns over government’s merger appeal, thinks it will wrap up by January or February

AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson brought out the big guns — or at least the big metaphors — Wednesday morning at Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia conference.

“I think of Netflix as kind of the Walmart of SVOD, HBO’s kind of the Tiffany,” Stephenson told those in attendance. Guess which one he owns?

In terms of that whole “bigger and broader” HBO that WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey has spoken about multiple times — Stephenson totally gets it, and he concurs with his lieutenant.

“You’d like to fill out the schedule…we’re not talking about Netflix-level of investments,” the head of the premium TV channel’s publicly traded parent company said.

Both men, Stephenson said, want content throughout the week and the year. They no longer want to see consumers cancel and renew their subscriptions around the “Game of Thrones” schedule.

Stephenson also has zero concern over the Department of Justice’s appeal against the AT&T-Time Warner merger that brought HBO under him in the first place. He said it’s basically just a bunch of lawyers billing hours at this point and expects that last-ditch effort to be all over in the “January-February timeframe.”

“We feel very good about where we stand on appeal,” Stephenson said, adding that he and his team is focused on integration and not further litigation.

Another thing Stephenson feels good about is WarnerMedia’s new direct-to-consumer service, which he says Stankey will announce in the fourth quarter.