retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The New York Post reports that AT&T’s president/CEO Randall Stephenson, in an analysts presentation this week, described HBO as being like Tiffany and rival Netflix as being like Walmart.

AT&T got HBO as part of its recent acquisition of Time Warner, and Stephenson said that “AT&T and Time Warner are forming a ‘modern media company’ by combining four elements - premium content, direct-to-consumer capability, advertising technology and high-speed delivery networks.”

A few things about these statements struck me as Eye-Openers.

First, I’m not so sure I’d be willing to dismiss Netflix so easily. Sure, they may be more populist in nature than HBO, but it also is responsible for a lot of quality product - original programs like “Ozark,” “Luke Cage,” “The Crown,” “Stranger Things,” “House of Cards,” and the list goes on and on.

Shows like “Real Sex,” “Cathouse,” and “Taxicab Confessions”? Those are HBO late-night “adult” series. (Though, to be fair, HBO has stopped making them and is getting out of this segment of the business.)

I just think it is better to focus on making your own business better, rather than, in this case, bad-mouthing a business model that has more than 100 million streaming customers globally.

Second … just for the record, Tiffany has about $4 billion in annual sales. Walmart has around $500 billion. Money isn’t everything, but I’m just sayin’…

Third … I happen to be an AT&T cellular customer … and they’re going to have to do a lot to convince me that it is even close to becoming a modern media company. If I had to rate it on customer satisfaction compared to companies like Netflix and Amazon, it would be a lot further down the scale.

I like and watch HBO a lot. But the only thing its recent moves have convinced me of is that it wants to get bigger … not necessarily better.

And to me, “better” is always the best prescription for success, relevance and resonance.
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