John StankeyLatest News and Opinion
Posted Tuesday 7/10/18 at 11:58PM EDT
In defense of AT&T's plans to expand HBO
HBO's new overseer, John Stankey, telling the boutique pay cable channel that AT&T will invest more money so it can create broader programming is better than the alternative -- that HBO would have to cut costs, says Andrew Wallenstein. Regardless, HBO knows it can't rest on its laurels. "Don’t think for a second anyone at HBO is bemoaning the impending loss of its boutique status; these guys are hungry to scale up for for the fight against new rivals," says Wallenstein. "Stankey may have looked like a hardliner by demanding HBO exceed 40% penetration of the pay-TV world but (HBO CEO Richard) Plepler already publicly eyed the 50% barrier a few months ago." ALSO: Some HBO-connected producers expressed relief with AT&T's plans, with one fearing that HBO could become obsolete like IBM computers.
Posted Tuesday 7/10/18 at 12:09AM EDT
HBO's profits would go down, not up, if it vastly increased its amount of programming
John Stankey, the AT&T executive now charged with overseeing HBO and other Time Warner properties, sounds like he wants HBO to become more like Netflix by producing more programming that can be consumed throughout the day, rather than weekly, according to a report published Sunday. But while Netflix is way more valuable than HBO, HBO's "quality over quantity" model greatly outshines Netflix when it comes to profit. Basically, it sounds like Stankey "wants to both have his cake and eat it," says Felix Salmon. As Salmon explains, Stankey says "that he wants more profits from HBO—that while HBO is currently making money, it’s not making enough. The problem is that if he starts ploughing billions of extra dollars into the HBO budget—the kind of money that would enable the unit to put out more content and get more hours a day—then that will bring the unit’s profits down, not up. Spending more money on premium content will probably bring in some new subscribers, but not nearly enough to cover the cost of the new content. That’s why the old Time Warner never did it. Lowering the cost of a subscription would also bring in new subscribers, while reducing profits and angering many cable operators. HBO was the crown jewel of Time Warner precisely because it was so incredibly profitable, year in and year out. If Stankey wants higher revenue, he can get that through investment. He can get more engagement, too. But he’s probably deluding himself if he thinks that he can hit the trifecta and get higher profits to boot." Salmon adds: "It makes sense for Stankey to want to compete with Netflix, but HBO is simply not the best platform to use to do so. HBO cares about nothing more than its reputation for quality: It will make Veep, but it would never make Fuller House. That obsession has turned it into one of the most valuable brands in the media world. HBO is worth much more than the $4 billion that Disney paid for Lucasfilm, plus the $4 billion Disney paid for Marvel, plus the $7.4 billion Disney paid for Pixar: The New Yorker estimated it was worth more than $30 billion in 2015, and it has surely increased in value since then. "
- The New York Times story on John Stankey's comments didn't tell the full story of AT&T's plans
- Applying Netflix's "more is more" approach would only dilute HBO's exclusive and valuable brand
- It's perplexing: HBO makes billions in profits while Netflix operates at a loss, yet AT&T wants HBO to be more like Netflix in order to become more profitable
- AT&T's plan for HBO is eerily similar to Season 2 of Westworld
- Why AT&T's plan to scale HBO's quality just might work
- HBO's deliberate approach to developing shows has led to numerous Emmys, while Netflix has yet to win an Emmy for best drama, comedy or miniseries
- AT&T's plan sounds as bad as its one for your phone
Posted Sunday 7/08/18 at 6:39PM EDT
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.
Posted Friday 6/15/18 at 10:55PM EDT
AT&T executive taking over HBO, TBS, TNT and CNN promises a hands-off approach -- even when it comes to Samantha Bee and Bill Maher
AT&T's John Stankey, 55, is now in charge of the $31 billion conglomerate that comprises Warner Bros. film studios, Turner and HBO as part of the AT&T-Time Warner merger. The company is changing its name to WarnerMedia. Stankey says he'll take a hands-off approach to the creative side of WarnerMedia. When asked about President Trump constantly attacking CNN, Stankey said: "Well, first of all the folks at CNN will continue to do what they do without my involvement or intervention. I think they do that incredibly very well, and they will continue to do that under my leadership just like they did the day before I showed up here." When asked about Bee and Maher -- and her recent Full Frontal controversy -- Stankey said his networks will continue having the same freedom they currently enjoy. "People who are running the creative process are professionals at running the creative process," he says. "I don’t believe that AT&T — the historical AT&T — by its nature brings much capability or intellectual property to do that better." ALSO: AT&T plans to give HBO a bigger budget to compete with Netflix.