Randall Stephenson Talks about Prospects of Programming and Streaming

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The CEO of AT&T®, Randall Stephenson, said that investing in more programming for HBO® would be the Dallas-based telecommunications company’s focal point for its media division, WarnerMedia. His comment came as the media unit of the best internet provider prepares to roll out a direct to consumer subscription platform in 2019.

During a question and answer session at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference, Stephenson said the original programming for its unnamed service will mainly revolve around HBO®, though still augmented by WarnerMedia’s other content. He said the aim is for the TV network to distribute a steadier stream of original TV series on a round the year basis.

The AT&T® CEO also touched upon a recent rumor about the possibility of reruns of “Friends” leaving Netflix as of January 01, 2019. He assured the streaming platform has exclusive rights to it for at least one more year, though WarnerMedia has the right to put the sitcom on its platform in 2020. Stephenson said, “It’s the kind of content we would definitely want to have on our platform,” even upon a non-exclusive basis.

The chief of the fastest internet provider acknowledged that this year was a “difficult” one for its DIRECTV® division, which lost a significant number of subscribers. He also hinted that DIRECTV® is preparing for a clash with programmers in the near future as the company gets selective about channels it carries.

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Randall Stephenson said, “The days of media companies accumulative massive amounts of content and shoving oversized bundles down on the consumer — those days are gone. There are a large number of customers saying we’re not paying those kind of prizes.”

The satellite provider is adjusting the combination of channels and price points for AT&T’s DIRECTV NOW® as it is “thinning the content out” particularly to channels that are still “really relevant to customers” in a bid to keep its price tag at about $50 to $60. However, Stephenson promised that another DIRECTV® branded bundle is expected to be out in early 2019 would be “at a much lower price point”.

He also talked up AT&T® Watch, which offers live streaming of around thirty channels for an affordable price as a bonus to help decrease the churn among the company’s wireless subscribers. Note that the skinny streaming bundle is free to people who sign up for the company’s unlimited wireless internet plan.

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