It’s been less than a month since AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner was approved and the company is already talking about overhauling HBO, one of Turner’s most prized assets.
In a town hall meeting held at HBO’s headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, John Stankey, an AT&T executive who now oversees HBO in his new role as chief executive of Warner Media, laid out the new plan for the network.
The current mission, Stankey explained, was to substantially increase HBO’s subscriber base and the number of hours that viewers spend watching its shows, reported the New York Times, which got ahold of the audio from the meeting. Stankey explained that network would need to boost its content creation by a considerable amount to do so.
“We need hours a day,” he said, speaking on the time viewers spend watching HBO programs. “It’s not hours a week, and it’s not hours a month. We need hours a day. You are competing with devices that sit in people’s hands that capture their attention every 15 minutes.”
“I want more hours of engagement,” he continued. “Why are more hours of engagement important? 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 subscriptions, which I think is very important to play in tomorrow’s world.”
The new chief executive explained that, overall, HBO wasn’t making enough money.
“Also,” Stankey said, “we’ve got to make money at the end of the day, right?”
“We do that,” Richard Plepler, HBO chief executive responded.
“Yes, you do,” Stankey replied. “Just not enough.”
Stankey admitted that the process would not be an easy one, comparing the new mission to childbirth.
“You will work very hard, and this next year will — my wife hates it when I say this — feel like childbirth,” he said. “You’ll look back on it and be very fond of it, but it’s not going to feel great while you’re in the middle of it.”