WarnerMedia Names New Heads in Shake-Up for Netflix Era

(Bloomberg) -- AT&T Inc. is reorganizing WarnerMedia as the telecom giant unites its sprawling new entertainment empire to better compete with Netflix Inc. for streaming video audiences.

  • Last month, AT&T beat back another effort by the U.S. to undo its Time Warner purchase, paving the way for the company to make structural changes.

Key Insights

  • AT&T is combining parts of what was once called Time Warner Inc. to use those cost savings to spend more on programming and compete with deep-pocketed online rivals like Netflix, Amazon.com Inc. and Hulu.
  • Robert Greenblatt, the former chairman of NBC Entertainment, will lead WarnerMedia’s entertainment and direct-to-consumer business. In his new role, he’ll oversee the premium channel HBO and the cable networks TNT, TBS and truTV.
  • The approach of the changes led longtime HBO head Richard Plepler and Turner chief David Levy to resign last week, and two remaining veterans are gaining wider responsibilities: CNN President Jeff Zucker will oversee WarnerMedia’s news and sports programming, while Warner Bros Chief Executive Kevin Tsujihara will add kids and young adult programming to his existing role.
  • The executive changes come as the New Yorker magazine reported that President Trump sought to have Gary Cohn, then director of the National Economic Council, to pressure the Justice Department to block AT&T’s merger with Time Warner. The magazine cited an unidentified person and the information couldn’t immediately be confirmed.

Market Reaction

  • AT&T shares fell as much as 1.8 percent in New York trading. The stock is down about 16 percent in the past year, compared with a 10 percent rise for entertainment rival Walt Disney Co. and a 17 percent rise for telecom competitor Verizon Communications Inc.

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