John Stankey Promoted to Chief Operating Officer at AT&T – Will Remain WarnerMedia CEO

Jeff McElfresh to take over for retiring John Donovan as head of AT&T Communications

John Stankey
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

John Stankey has been named president and chief operating officer for AT&T, beginning on Oct. 1.

Stankey will remain in his role as CEO of WarnerMedia. The COO role is a newly-created position for AT&T, reporting directly to CEO Randall Stephenson.

The company named AT&T executive Jeff McElfresh CEO of AT&T Communications effective Oct. 1, replacing John Donovan, who earlier announced his retirement. AT&T Communications is the company’s business unit that operates its mobile and television businesses, which includes DirecTV.

McElfresh will report to Stankey, as will Xandr CEO Brian Lesser, along with the current WarnerMedia executive team.

“Now is the time to more tightly align our collection of world-class content, scaled consumer relationships, technical know-how and innovative advertising technology,” Stephenson said. “It’s the natural next step in bringing together the distinct and complimentary capabilities of AT&T Communications, WarnerMedia and Xandr to deliver for consumers the benefits of a modern media company. AT&T is alone in the industry in being able to bring together these three great businesses for the launch of innovative consumer offers, relevant advertising and new entertainment services like HBO Max.”

The promotion further entrenches Stankey, who has been with AT&T since 1985, within the company as it prepares the launch of its streaming service, HBO Max, next spring.

HBO Max will feature programming centered around HBO, Warner Bros, New Line, DC Entertainment, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, The CW, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes. It will have the rights to former NBC sitcom “Friends” when it launches, as well as other classic sitcoms like “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

HBO Max will also have a bevy of original content including four Greg Berlanti-produced films and two romantic comedies from Reese Witherspoon. Original series slated for the service include a “Dune” spinoff from Denis Villeneuve (who is also directing the big-screen reboot), the Ansel Elgort-starring “Tokyo Vice” and a “Gremlins” animated series.