Is HBO about to become more like Netflix?
During a recent town hall meeting with HBO employees, the company’s new chief executive, John Stankey, seemed to suggest without actually name-checking the streaming service that the home of Game of Thrones and Big Little Lies needs to be more like Netflix if it wants to remain competitive.
“We need hours a day,” Stankey said, according to a recording of the town hall obtained by the New York Times. “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.
“I want more hours of engagement,” he continued. “Why are more hours of engagement important? Because you get more data and information about a customer that then allows you to do things like monetize through alternate models of advertising as well as subscriptions, which I think is very important to play in tomorrow’s world.”
Stankey, a self-described “bell head” executive with a telecommunications background, took over HBO as part of AT&T’s $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner. Though AT&T brass reportedly said it would maintain a passive stance when it came to the highly profitable pay channel, Stankey’s comments seemed to suggest otherwise.
“It’s going to be a tough year,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of work to alter and change direction a little bit.”
He also warned employees that their workload could increase substantially.
“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,” he said. “This next year will… my wife hates it when I say this… feel like childbirth,” he said. “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. She says, ‘What do you know about this?’ I just observe, ‘Honey. We love our kids.’”
To read the full Times story, click here.