There may be many noticeable changes on HBO in the future. The new owners AT&T are insistent on the importance of competition with other big players such as Netflix, and an increase in the number of shows the network offers to users.
AT&T wants HBO to think about ways to offer subscribers more shows and increase interaction in order to compete with Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. AT&T’s John Stankey held a meeting with CEO of HBO Richard Plepler in front of many other HBO employees, and a recording of the meeting is now in the hands of The New York Times.
Stankey, an AT&T veteran who is now HBO’s CEO of Warner Media, (formerly Time Warner), announced their intention to acquire Time Warner in October 2016. It became officially approved for the merger in June 2018.
For Stankey, one of the biggest issues was Watch Time. He argues that HBO cannot simply rely on a few series to drive viewer interaction every week.
“We need hours a day. 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.”
On YouTube, 450 hours of video are uploaded every minute, and over a billion hours watched each day. On Netflix, users watch 140 million hours of content each day.
From his statements, there were concerns from Richard Plepler, HBO’s chief executive. He believes that HBO needs to focus on quality over quantity. He noted that giving shows like Westworld, Game of Thrones, and Big Little Lies more time to create the series that have become popular and award-winning, even though he agreed the company’s model does need to change.
“I’ve said, ‘More is not better, only better is better,’ because that was the hand we had. 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.’”
The result is likely to include more series with an added streaming element. More film sand series will also probably be added to HBO Now.
“You are competing with devices that sit in people’s hands that capture their attention every 15 minutes. I suspect if we’re in a situation where we’re going to be investing heavier, that means that there’s going to be more work for all of you to do — and you’re going to be working a little bit harder,” Stankey said.
It looks like HBO employees definitely have their work cut out for them this year. Game of Thrones, arguably HBO’s biggest and best money maker, is currently filming its final season.
Shannon Toohey is Editor-In-Chief of FanFest.com. She graduated from Hofstra University in 2015 with a B.A. in Journalism from the Lawrence Herbert School of Communications. Shannon has been a proud member of the Fan Fest team since 2013. Tweet her in your prettiest bird voice: @shannontoo