I'll let John Stankey, new CEO of the new Warner Media division, dig his own hole:
The talk, held at HBO headquarters in New York City, was hosted by HBO CEO Richard Plepler. Both Stankey and Plepler acknowledged that producing more shows could lead to a drop in quality, but they said they hope to produce more without sacrificing HBO's standard of excellence.
HBO must produce more content, "transforming itself from a boutique operation, with a focus on its signature Sunday night lineup, into something bigger and broader," the Times wrote in a paraphrase of Stankey's remarks.
"We need hours a day," Mr. Stankey said, referring to the time viewers spend watching HBO programs. "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."
"Think about things like Game of Thrones," AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said at a telecom conference in May 2017. "In a mobile environment, a 60-minute episode might not be the best experience. Maybe you want a 20-minute episode." Instead of showing full-length episodes on all devices, it might be best to "curate the content uniquely for a mobile environment."
"Also," Mr. Stankey said, "we've got to make money at the end of the day, right?"
"We do that," Mr. Plepler responded, to scattered applause.
"Yes, you do," Mr. Stankey said. "Just not enough."
"Oh, now, now, be careful," Mr. Plepler said.
HBO has made $6 billion in profit over the past three years, while devoting $2 billion to programming. That seems like a pretty good return on investment to me. Not to mention the dozens upon dozens of awards that HBO programming has won for the network.
HBO has 40 million subscribers in the US and 142 million worldwide, but Stankey said that AT&T intends to make HBO "a much more common product."
I'm tempted to write a paper letter to Stankey's boss at AT&T, but it seems pretty clear that he doesn't know anything or care about HBO either. If Stankey starts executing on his vision of HBO programming with advertising targeted at mobile devices, I can at least vote with my wallet. Maybe I'm only 1/40 millionth of their revenue, but it's what I can do.