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AT&T to overhaul HBO, add more original content

13 July 2018

A Warner Media representative who attended the meeting said Stankey discussed boosting engagement across the entire company, not just at HBO, and that Stankey and HBO CEO Richard Plepler were on the same page about how the media property should proceed.

At the meeting, Stankey outlined his plans to make HBO more competitive amid tough challenges from the streaming services of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. He went on to clarify, "It's going to be a lot of work to alter and change direction a little bit".

Stankey said HBO needs to change from being a boutique network, with an emphasis on its Sunday night line up, to "something bigger, broader".

John Stankey, the new overseer of HBO post-AT&T merger, has predicted a hard year ahead for the network, which he likened to the pains of childbirth.

"We need more hours of engagement in a day", he said.

He continued: "As I step back and think about what's unique about the brand and where it needs to go, there's got to be a little more depth to it, there's got to be more frequent engagement".

HBO has won dozens of Emmy awards in recent years, airing commercially and critically successful programs such as "Game of Thrones" and "Westworld".

Alex Gilyadov is a writer for IGN.

Part of the change will include a company push to increase HBO's subscriber base and the amount of content and number of hours consumers watch its shows.

At&T executives reportedly said they'd take a "hands-off approach" to HBO, but their comments suggested they wouldn't be uninvolved. Thankfully for HBO fans, AT&T wants to make HBO more like Netflix.

While that specific change idea seems to have died off, the goal behind it - making major changes to HBO's business model - will live on. HBO will get more money from AT&T, but as HBO's programming chief Casey Bloys said when talking about Netflix's spending, "money is obviously very nice but it doesn't automatically mean quality". It's this that could be an essential ingredient in Stankey's vision for transforming HBO.

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Stankey did not say how much AT&T is willing to invest and he did not mention Netflix by name, but it's pretty clear what the exec was hinting at. "I've said, 'More is not better, only better is better, ' because that was the hand we had", he said.

Stankey wants HBO to make more money and significantly increase the number of subscribers in the United States and worldwide.

"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.

AT&T to overhaul HBO, add more original content