AT&T’s Audience Network will soon cease to exist. AT&T said Wednesday that it will transition Audience Network’s linear and streaming broadcasts in the spring to become an HBO Max Preview Channel.
“We will begin to transition Audience Network from its current approach to support AT&T’s broader original content and marketing focus on the upcoming HBO Max service,” said Daniel York, chief content officer, AT&T Consumer. “I am proud and grateful to the team at Audience for their many successes over the years, creating unique, fresh and provocative content along with our great studio partners. 20 years ago we were the first pay TV provider to differentiate our content offering with the best exclusive original content, and the team truly brought to life the network vision: Always Original, Never Ordinary.”
Audience launched as FreeView in November 1999 and primarily focused on music and concerts. It grew its content portfolio and was rebranded to The 101 Network in early 2005, and to Audience Network in 2010 when it expanded into scripted original series.
AT&T Audience Network’s original comedy You, Me, Her wrapped its five-season run in June. The net has three other originals: drama Condor and comedy Loudermilk were renewed for new seasons but have not received release dates. Mr. Mercedes wrapped Season 3 in November.
As to the fate of existing programming, an AT&T rep would only say, “Any future use of Audience Network content will be assessed at a later date.”
On the broader corporate level, AT&T has been making significant strategic moves in recent months as it readies HBO Max and works to pay down the enormous debt load created by its $81 billion acquisition of Time Warner. That deal closed in mid-2018, but legal antitrust challenges of the deal by the Trump Administration continued until February of last year.
The company has been aiming to eliminate silos and separations between brands, especially as it prepares for the launch of HBO Max, an all-encompassing service. At $15 a month, it is the highest-priced of any of the recent entrants into the streaming competition, but executives have expressed confidence it will gain traction.
Like its media peers, WarnerMedia faces a high-pressure balancing act in continuing to operate revenue-generating pay-TV networks, whose ratings are in secular decline, while also initiating new direct-to-consumer businesses.
Dade Hayes contributed to this story.