WarnerMedia, formally Warner Time, wants to get involved with the online streaming industry, going head to head with giants like Netflix and Hulu, among others.
With the merger between AT&T and Warner Time, it allowed WarnerMedia to rise as a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment industry.
Warner Time is the world’s third-largest entertainment company after Comcast and Disney. It owns Turner, home to cable networks and digital media properties such as CNN, TNT, and Adult Swim. It also includes Home Box Office (HBO) and Warner Bros., which produces and distributes television shows, movies, and video games.
AT&T, on the other hand, is a multinational conglomerate holding company and is the world’s largest telecommunications company, the second largest provider of mobile telephone services, and the largest provider of fixed telephone services in the United States through.
AT&T says that this merger was crucial for its ability to adapt to current trends following the fast developing Internet.
While Netflix is producing original content faster that its users can catch up on and make it available across different media outlets such as mobile devices, laptops and, television. WarnerMedia seeks to do the same through HBO, the company’s premium network that airs hit shows such as Game of Thrones and creator of original content like Veep.
As a result, WarnerMedia boss John Stankey pressured employees to increase output substantially. “We need hours a day. It’s not hours a week, and it’s not hours a month,” he said. “We need hours a day. You are competing with devices that sit in people’s hands that capture their attention every 15 minutes.”
AT&T might also push HBO to produce shorter, bite-sized content suitable for watching on mobile devices. CEO Randall Stephenson has suggested more curation for mobile might be necessary, saying “in a mobile environment, a 60-minute episode might not be the best experience. Maybe you want a 20-minute episode.”
This isn’t a new idea or even AT&T’s idea; back when HBO first announced HBO Now, it said that shorter-form programming might be a good fit for the service.
HBO is already hugely successful business and produces billions in profit each year, but it’s “not enough,” Stankey said in June. Still, he acknowledged that the network risks taking a hit to its reputation if quality dives in the name of quantity. “You’ve earned the dynamic amongst your customer base that when you put a new piece of content out there, people will try it, just because they trust you’re going to be putting something in front of them that they might like,” Stankey said at the June town hall. “We now need to figure out how to expand the aperture of it without losing the quality.”
HBO plans 150 hours of original programming this year — a 50 percent jump from 2018. That’s enough to warrant airing some shows on Monday evenings since there’s no room on HBO’s signature Sunday slate. Casey Bloys, the network’s president of programming, said “there’s no difference in type or quality of programming we’re doing” and “all of this programming is programming that we would’ve done two years ago, five years ago.” In other words, he’s saying it’s still content that’s worthy of HBO.
On WarnerMedia’s Online Streaming Platform
Greenblatt emphasized the need for WarnerMedia to produce quality and unique content into their online streaming platform to attract and maintain subscribers. He says AT&T “wants to be aggressive in this new world order [and] wants me to pull it all together.”
Greenblatt continues to say, “It’s really early days. I don’t have a great and comprehensive answer for you yet. I would just say that the goal here is to put all of these assets that this company has — from the movie studio to HBO and Turner and the vast library — and build a platform that is robust and a great value to the consumer.”
As is, AT&T already operates DirecTV Now, an internet TV service positioned as a cable alternative, plus a smaller bundle of channels packaged into a service that the company calls WatchTV. The latter is offered for free to customers on select AT&T unlimited data plans. But eventually, the new WarnerMedia service could be an even more powerful draw for wireless customers — and help prevent existing subscribers from switching.
WarnerMedia’s online platform is said to launch in beta in late 2019, Greenblatt saying “the longer you wait, the harder it will be.” With reports coming in that Disney will have shown off its Disney+ service to investors, if not the public. Where its service will have original shows and tons of Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar content, and its launch will mean the removal of tons of Disney titles from Netflix.
Moreover, Apple is also rumored to be preparing its video service for a debut sometime over the next couple months.
To compete with Disney, Netflix, and everyone else in this crowded space—a realm in which consumers may fast be approaching a saturation point of paying for too many standalone packages—AT&T has to roll out something chock full of high-gloss content.
And now that it has so many different channels under one umbrella, it can.