At APOS today, Molly Battin, executive VP of WarnerMedia, weighed in on the importance of scale, the merger with AT&T and the restructure of HBO, Turner and Warner Bros.
“The real headline and the whole concept behind the merger [of Time Warner with AT&T] was all about creating scale. It’s about combining the power of platforms, brands, storytelling, innovation and data, and doing it in a way that creates massive scale in the marketplace, and really helps us to supercharge our strategy around reimagining this television ecosystem,” Battin said.
AT&T has 170 million direct-to-consumer relationships “that WarnerMedia now has access to. Having that visibility into the consumer and how they consume content will help us think about how we innovate around the consumer experience and how we leverage that insight to create more curated experiences—personalized content experiences—for our consumers.”
That knowledge will also be key in working with advertising partners. “We can leverage the data to bring programmatic, targeted advertising solutions that we know will drive results.”
Plus, Battin said, “The future of TV is mobile, so having AT&T as a partner and a parent is how we gain those insights and accelerate us in that direction.”
The merger also allows WarnerMedia to drive innovation in consumer experiences with content and storytelling.
Battin noted that WarnerMedia and AT&T’s combined marketing spend makes it the number one or two global advertiser. “There’s power in the marketplace by being that big, so we’re looking at how we use that buying power to create more opportunities for our brands, to create more exposure and use it to drive efficiencies and bring prices down.”
The merger also created opportunities to exploit content across the WarnerMedia and AT&T portfolios, as it did with the launch of the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones. “It was in every AT&T store; we created experiences for AT&T users, we leveraged all their platforms.”
The integration process included being “hyper-focused on how we bring these two companies together [while] thinking about how we maintain and carry forward the best of our culture so we can retain and motivate our people. They are different cultures. AT&T is much more transactional whereas WarnerMedia is all about creativity, talent and storytelling.”
WarnerMedia also recently restructured internally. “We pivoted from being a holding company to being an operating company.” That entailed defining a unified WarnerMedia culture while maintaining the brand cultures at CNN, Cartoon Network and other assets. “We did a lot of work across the enterprise to make sure we’re bringing the best of the past and keeping that innovation and maverick spirit, making sure we’re home to great talent, keeping the storytelling and creativity part of it but really bringing in new assets that we need to become a truly modern media company.”
The old Time Warner was highly siloed, Battin said, with Warner Bros., HBO and Turner operating independently. Now, news and sports fall under one division focused on live production; WarnerMedia Entertainment includes the Turner legacy brands, HBO and direct to consumer; and Cartoon Network and Adult Swim sit within Warner Bros. “The vision is about combining the power of two amazing studios in this space, creating more efficiencies and leveraging the marketplace; going to market as one global brand.”
On WarnerMedia’s D2C service, Battin said a beta version would be available in the U.S. in Q4. There’s no word yet on pricing or international expansion.