AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson talked the telecommunications giant’s transformation into a “modern media company,” and laid out his plans for the future — including investing in content and capitalizing on technology to deliver entertainment in new ways.
In a morning keynote at the Wells Fargo Securities 2918 Telecom 5G forum in New York, Stephenson offered an upbeat assessment of the company’s prospects now that its $85 billion deal to acquire Time Warner Inc. has finally closed.
Stephenson talked about the media and political landscape, which changed dramatically over the 18-months since the Time Warner deal was announced. Across the 600-day legal ordeal, he said, the Trump Administration adopted sweeping tax cuts and repealed the net neutrality rules — both of which accrue to the telecom giant’s benefit.
“Some really positive developments transpired,” Stephenson told investors. “That caused us more enthusiasm, not less.”
Stephenson said the acquisition of such marquee entertainment properties as Warner Bros. studio, CNN and HBO have transformed AT&T into a “modern media company,” one that’s well-positioned to cultivate direct relationships with consumers and develop sophisticated TV ad products.
Indeed, AT&T announced the launch of the first consumer product that harnesses wireless connectivity and content: WatchTV. Stephenson said the low-cost bundle, stripped of pricy sports programming, will help combat subscriber churn and yield a “nice margin.”
Stephenson talked about the opportunities that exist for targeted advertising, and how AT&T’s consumer data would allow brands and marketers to more efficiently reach their consumers on Turner’s networks. Viewers would see the benefit as well, he said, because ad loads would decrease as programming fetches higher ad rates.
It’s not just theoretical, Stephenson said. DirecTV used data insights to command higher ad rates for the inventory it receives from networks on the platform. AT&T’s goal is to create an advertising platform that could compete with Facebook and Google.