In a Q&A session with the Wall Street Journal, John Stankey, COO of AT&T, discussed plans for rolling out HBO Max.
One area he didn’t comment on was the still unknown price of the upcoming streaming service. Reports have speculated the price will be around $15 per month, higher than Disney+ and Apple TV+. He did comment on the pricing of both of those competitors, saying in WSJ’s full report that Apple’s low streaming service cost is possible because of the high cost of their hardware. Disney, he says, is already making money from Disney channels on cable and the low price of Disney+ fits with their business model.
“I believe if you can put something out there of higher quality and higher consistency, more emotional connection and better curation, [it] should warrant a slightly higher price,” Mr. Stankey said when asked for details.
Acknowledging that DirecTV has been losing subscribers, Stankey said that he believes DirecTV will be an important part of the launch of HBO Max. He suggests that pay TV will be a means for bringing subscribers to streaming services and says that DirecTV will be an advertising opportunity for the company.
While Stankey and others at AT&T are looking forward to the launch of HBO Max and are optimistic about how viewers will receive it, not everyone is on board. There has been a lot of turnover in leadership since AT&T acquired WarnerMedia and it seems that there has been some discontent among the team developing the streaming service. Stankey chalks it up to everyone wanting control and some feeling less motivated when plans don’t line up with their own vision of how things should be done.
He says that the leadership team, including WarnerMedia Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt and Warner Bros. Chief Executive Ann Sarnoff, are on the same page and “energized about it.”
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