Stankey named Brad Bentley, the former VP of marketing at DirecTV, as general manager and executive vice president of WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer development in an email this morning to staff, providing an update on progress toward launching the company’s Netflix competitor. Turner chief technology officer, Jeremy Legg, will oversee responsibilities for HBO and Turner technology.
The appointments signal that Stankey plans to draw talent from across AT&T’s business units to launch the streaming service, which would draw from the media company’s broad collection of films, television shows, animation and its library.
“These initial changes are intended to build a direct-to-consumer organization and execution capability necessary to move the overall effort forward and answer the many questions that must be addressed prior to launch,” Stankey wrote in the email obtained by Deadline. “As work streams are better defined, I expect there will be further changes and adjustments to our operating model — exactly what, when and who, remains a work in progress that will be heavily influenced by this early work.”
HBO has been pushing heavily into streaming, including the 2015 introduction of its direct-to-consumer offering HBO Now. But it has also has encountered numerous technical glitches with that service, and HBO Go, which is free for pay-TV subscribers. Game of Thrones finales and season premieres were affected in 2015 and 2016, as was the finale of True Detective in 2014.
Here’s the memo:
Last month we announced plans to launch our direct-to-consumer offering in the fourth quarter of 2019. Today, I want to share some initial organization changes as we take our first steps to building the detailed project plan and further defining our product road map.
Bringing the product we envision to the marketplace will require the support, coordination and cooperation of all WarnerMedia entities. By definition, the appeal of this market offer is founded in the collective assets and abilities of Warner Bros., Turner and HBO. Yes, we have a strong library and an incredible ability to make beloved content — but our biggest advantage is the dedication and passion that each of you showcase every day.
As an organization, we have many industry and structural dynamics pushing and pulling against our traditional approach to operating and running the business. The balance we must strike is between positioning the company to succeed within the realities of the future and keeping the business in a position to execute in today’s marketplace. Admittedly, not an easy balance to strike. I fully expect our journey in the coming months will cause us to assess, recalibrate and adjust time and again. Our collective agility and ability to make changes will be necessary to navigate the coming months and putting these key leaders in place will further shape, develop and communicate our direction broadly across the organization.
These initial changes are intended to build a direct-to-consumer organization and execution capability necessary to move the overall effort forward and answer the many questions that must be addressed prior to launch. As work streams are better defined, I expect there will be further changes and adjustments to our operating model — exactly what, when and who, remains a work in progress that will be heavily influenced by this early work.
To that end, we make the following appointments and changes to our leadership structure:
Brad Bentley has been named General Manager and Executive Vice President for Direct-to-Consumer Development, WarnerMedia. In this role, Brad will report to me and is responsible for overall product coordination and for delivering the WarnerMedia service to market. Brad’s role will include managing the overall cost, schedule and performance of the service and establishing its P&L structure. Brad joins the WarnerMedia team from the AT&T Entertainment Group and brings with him a strong background in market strategy, brand development, marketing science, subscription customer lifecycle management and direct-to-consumer product development. Brad played a similar role in the launch of DirecTV Now, and we welcome his experience and insight.
To coordinate and focus our technology investment and platform evolution that will support this important transition, Jeremy Legg, Turner’s Chief Technology Officer, will assume overall responsibilities for Turner and HBO technology operations. There is an extraordinary tech team at HBO that has helped lead their successful digital strategy and will continue to do so in the evolving digital business. This step allows us to execute decisively to align on target platforms, and coordinate the resources across these organizations that represent components of a unified direct-to-consumer technology platform. During his time as Turner’s CTO, Jeremy has consistently identified areas of business growth on various existing and emerging platforms, including TV Everywhere, handling nonlinear and product distribution for broadband, internet TV and wireless. There are some very promising and innovative technology efforts underway at both HBO and Turner, and our goal is to provide focus and scale to the most important elements of these efforts and to make sure they have the proper resources.
While an important first step, this is only a first step. Our success will depend on cross organization collaboration and development of new models for executing work in the months to come. While we will all need to learn new ways of working together, I believe it is essential we start this journey. As we move forward, our individual success will be more tightly coupled to the collective capabilities of the WarnerMedia family. I will coordinate the overall direct-to-consumer development effort, working closely with the respective Division CEOs to establish the key points of integration and coordination. In the coming months you will hear more from this team as it begins the work of developing and launching our world-class direct-to-consumer service.
I am quite certain that this will bring exciting new challenges for those that lean into these new initiatives and will build a foundation for our sustained business and professional growth.