HBO must become bigger and broader, says its new overseer at AT&T
HBO's successful approach of quality over quantity may become a thing of the past. The New York Times has obtained a recording of John Stankey, the longtime AT&T executive now charged with overseeing HBO as head of Warner Media, in conversation with HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler before HBO staffers on June 19. In the tape, Stankey appears to suggest that HBO move away from being a boutique operation focused on its signature Sunday night lineup, into something bigger and better -- something more akin to Netflix (without actually naming the streaming giant). “We need hours a day,” Stankey said, referring to 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.” Stankey added: “I want more hours of engagement. 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.” Pleper pointed out that HBO's approach has generated a lot of money. “Yes, you do,” Stankey responded. “Just not enough.” In an interview with The Times last month, Stankey promised a hands-off approach to HBO and CNN.
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