HBO Executive Says Network Will 'Change Direction' After Merger

HBO Executive Says Network Will 'Change Direction' After Merger

You might know the network for such cult successes like Westworld, Last Week Tonight, and a small little fantasy series known as Game of Thrones. Well now we get to find out because AT&T has bought it and recently served notice that things are going to have to change around here.

If you subscribe to HBO, get ready for some changes. AT&T, the new owner, has served notice that the premium content provider, acquired in the Time Warner merger, is going to have to contribute more to the bottom line. While HBO is an ad-free service, its new parent AT&T is rapidly working on building its advertising and analytics business to be more automated and allow marketers to more precisely target audiences and deliver specific messages to households.

"It's going to be a tough year", Stankey said. "It's going to be a lot of work to alter and change direction a little bit".

Ever since it first started developing original scripted programming in the 1990s with "Oz", HBO has focused on quality: high-concept dramas, unusual comedies, made-for-TV movies that always seemed a cut above the rest.

"I want more hours of engagement", Stankey said. "It's not hours a week, and it's not hours a month", he said. "You are competing with devices that sit in people's hands that capture their attention every 15 minutes", he said. "I've switched that, now that you're here, to: 'More isn't better, only better is better - but we need a lot more to be even better'". "Why are more hours of engagement important?" he continued.

Stankey said HBO needs to change from being a boutique network, with an emphasis on its Sunday night line up, to "something bigger, broader". Stankey said that HBO needs to attract more subscribers and convince subscribers to spend more time watching HBO, the Times report said.

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Everything-including, possibly, advertising. HBO has been commercial-free since it launched, and while it is unlikely to add commercials to its existing service, Stankey suggested that ads could have a place on the service in the future.

Stankey warned that HBO employee jobs are "safe", but they will probably have to "work harder" than in the past.

Stankey said to Plepler that he feels HBO's $6 billion in annual profits is "just not enough", prompting Plepler to respond by saying "Oh, now, now, be careful".

HBO has made a steady profit; for the past three years, it's put more than $2 billion a year toward programming, while making a profit of nearly $6 billion.

"I've said, 'More is not better, only better is better, ' because that was the hand we had", Plepler said.

"You will work very hard, and this next year will - my wife hates it when I say this - feel like childbirth", he said to 150 HBO employees at a recent town hall.

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