John Stankey, the CEO of AT&T’s WarnerMedia division, announced on Wednesday at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit that the company is prepping for a new direct-to-consumer streaming service which will feature its portfolio of entertainment brands, including HBO. The objective is intended to capture the full potential of the former Time Warner assets, for which AT&T forked over $100 billion including the assumption of debt.
A WarnerMedia streaming service will put the company, recently acquired by AT&T, square into the race for streaming audiences alongside Hulu (20 million US subscribers) and Netflix (55 million US subscribers).
“HBO is one of the best values in the market right now,” said Stankey, “clearly what we want to do here is we want to ensure what we’re offering on a combined basis is compelling…Our job isn’t to build another Netflix. Our job is to build compelling content”.
WarnerMedia’s new streaming service is coming at the same time as Disney is actively preparing for the launch of its much anticipated Netflix rival, due by the end of 2019 as well. Like Disney, WarnerMedia is taking the gamble to distance away from traditional revenue of licensing TV shows and movies to outside buyers in favor of keeping all content in-house to make for a compelling subscription-based offering.
HBO Now launched its $15/month service in 2015 which passed 5 million US subscribers at the start of 2018. Last month, WarnerMedia launched DC Universe, a which costs $9/month which will feature series like Titans and others from the DC Universe. There’s also FilmStruck, a streaming destination for cinephiles and DIRECTV NOW, which offers streaming services without the hassle of satellite/cable.
The exec confirmed that HBO will continue to be sold as a stand-alone product but that the rest of the service will not be available until later. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Stankey said that CNN will not be part of the service, clarifying that some documentary programming could be available but that the live news programming would not be offered as part of a subscription.
In a statement issued at the time of the announcement, Stankey said the new service “is another benefit of the AT&T/Time Warner merger.” He continued, “we are committed to launching a compelling and competitive product that will serve as a complement to our existing businesses and help us to expand our reach by offering a new choice for entertainment with the WarnerMedia collection of films, television series, libraries, documentaries and animation loved by consumers around the world.”
Details about pricing and the name of the service were not disclosed and are expected to be announced at a later date.