AT&T restructuring WarnerMedia as it prepares for Netflix battle

March 05, 2019 09:06
AT&T has announced a major overhaul of its WarnerMedia unit as it prepares to launch a video streaming service and take on Netflix. Photo: Bloomberg

AT&T is restructuring its WarnerMedia business as it girds for a streaming video battle with Netflix and Walt Disney Co, Reuters reports, citing a memo sent by WarnerMedia to its employees. 

“At a time when we must shift our investment focus to develop more content for specific and demanding audiences on emerging platforms, we can’t sustain a model where we invest one dollar more than necessary in the administrative aspects of running our business,” WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey was quoted as saying in the memo.

“Put simply, our priority is to direct resources to product development and innovation.”

Robert Greenblatt, a former executive at Comcast Corp’s NBCUniversal unit, will oversee premium cable network HBO, cable channels TNT, TBS, Tru TV and the upcoming video streaming service as chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment.

CNN chief Jeff Zucker will add oversight of sports programming across the company as chairman of News and Sports.

Kevin Tsujihara will continue to run Warner Bros Hollywood and TV studios and add two new businesses to his responsibilities, including a newly created kids and young adult group.

The overhaul will bring together kids programming from across the company, including storied franchises Hanna-Barbera and Loony Tunes, according to the report.

Tsujihara will also oversee the licensed consumer products business across the company.

WarnerMedia has also consolidated advertising sales and affiliate sales under one division to be run by Gerhard Zeiler, newly appointed chief revenue officer. Zeiler was president of Turner International.

The restructuring comes ahead of an anticipated round of significant layoffs and cost cuts and right after the resignation of two high-profile executives - Richard Plepler, the head of HBO and David Levy, president of Turner Broadcasting, Reuters noted.

AT&T, which cleared its last regulatory hurdle last week after winning an appeals court decision challenging its US$85 billion deal to buy Time Warner, aims to reinvest savings into its programming businesses.

It will launch an early version of its HBO-led subscription video streaming service late this year.

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