CNBC: ‘AT&T Dismantles Time Warner to Battle Netflix: The Inside Story’

Fantastic, deeply reported piece for CNBC by Alex Sherman. Details of a meeting between AT&T CEO John Stankey and longtime HBO CEO Richard Plepler that took place in December 2018:

According to five people familiar with the meeting, Plepler laid out a simple path forward:

First, give HBO more money to spend on content.

Second, augment the Cinemax premium TV channel with more family-friendly original, library, and licensed children’s programming.

Third, sell HBO and Cinemax together for a couple dollars more than HBO — around $17 per month.

Fourth, hammer out a deal with Comcast, the largest U.S. cable company, allowing the broadband distributor to sell HBO Go directly to broadband-only customers.

Finally, and most importantly, don’t blow HBO up.

Plepler’s team estimated this plan would guarantee $7.5 billion in annual revenue plus future upside depending on the success of the new content.

Stankey heard them out. Then, he ignored their advice. Stankey had bigger ambitions for streaming video. Less than three months later, Plepler announced he was leaving WarnerMedia.

Where’s Plepler now? Producing content for Apple TV+.

Monday, 7 December 2020