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What just happened? HBO has always had a good reputation, earned by setting their sights on quality over quantity with their shows. However, now that AT&T effectively owns the company through their recent acquisition of Warner Media, significant changes are coming to HBO's content strategy. AT&T wants HBO to produce more shows to drive more "frequent" customer engagement moving forward.
It seems HBO is in for a rough time following AT&T's purchase of parent company Warner Media.
Last year, before the purchase had gone through, AT&T hinted that they might be making some changes to the way HBO's content works.
Indeed, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson went so far as to suggest that episodes of Game of Thrones might be cut down to 20 minutes, noting that "a 60-minute episode might not be the best experience" for mobile users.
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. John Stankey, an AT&T executive chosen to lead the ISP's new Warner Media division, recently held a meeting with roughly 150 employees where he discussed some of the changes coming to HBO.
During the meeting, Stankey and HBO boss Richard Plepler talked about the former's desire to produce more shows, even if it leads to poorer-quality content overall. Stankey said "hours a day" of engagement will be HBO's new focus with their content, rather than "hours a week" or "hours a month."
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."
Though much of the meeting's contents were vague – neither Stankey or Plepler seemed to announce any concrete changes coming to HBO – it's clear that the company's content will be changing quite a bit moving forward. Unfortunately for employees, these changes are not likely to be easy to handle.
"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 to the employees gathered before him. "You will work very hard, and this next year will --- my wife hates it when I say this --- feel like childbirth. You'll look back on it and be very fond of it, but it's not going to feel great while you're in the middle of it."