Posted Tue Jul 10, 2018 at 08:40 PM PDT by Steven Cohen
The premium cable network's content strategy is being reassessed.
As reported by The New York Times and The Atlantic, HBO could be going through some pretty big changes as it transitions to new corporate leadership. AT&T recently acquired the network's parent company, Time Warner, and quotes from a June meeting imply that the telecommunications giant is hoping to tweak HBO's strategy to better compete with Netflix and its ever-growing streaming lineup.
The town hall meeting with HBO employees was spearheaded by new Warner Media chief executive John Stankey. Speaking to the group and HBO's chief executive Richard Plepler, Stankey outlined a difficult road ahead along with a revised game plan for the network seemingly geared toward a broader outreach and a sizable uptick in content output. According to reports based on audio recorded from the event, Stankey hopes to grow HBO's subscriber base through more hours of engagement per day, ostensibly expanding its original programming library beyond the channel's standard Sunday night schedule to more timeslots throughout the week.
Up to this point, HBO has been known to take a more selective and measured approach to its lineup, but this proposed emphasis on increased content output would put the network more in line with Netflix's increasingly aggressive style of development, pumping out more and more shows to maintain audience engagement. According to Stankey, that increased engagement could then be used to mine valuable viewer data, helping the company to use new subscription and advertising methods.
Though this broader strategy could potentially diminish the prestige brand HBO has carefully built over the years through award-winning and critically-acclaimed series like The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, and Big Little Lies, the new approach isn't entirely bent on completely reworking the already popular and profitable network. As Recode points out, Stankey also made sure to emphasize the healthy amount of autonomy HBO will continue to operate with and the increased resources it will be given to meet AT&T's expected increases in growth.
For now, it remains to be seen just how much the acquisition will change HBO. Hopefully, the company can find the right balance between growth and value, offering a higher output of content without sacrificing quality in the service of empty engagement and data mining.
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