In the latest WarnerMedia development, Robert Greenblatt has been named as Chairman for WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer.
This is not simply the announcing of a new appointment at the top, but effectively a reorganization of how WarnerMedia is set up. One of the most revealing points of this reorganization is how HBO and most of the main Turner assets have now been grouped together under Greenblatt’s control.
Previously, HBO and Turner operated as separate entities and both reported to different people. However, within the last week the two execs in charge of the different entities both stepped down from their respective positions which has now paved the way for AT&T’s WarnerMedia to make this announcement.
WarnerMedia says this “new organizational model” is designed to “accelerate the investment in and development of content.”
Although not confirmed by WarnerMedia, a report out of The Wall Street Journal today states the reorganization efforts are expected to result in a number of layoffs.
The timing of all this is hardly coincidental as AT&T’s WarnerMedia has been moving at lightning speed in the last week. It was barely a week ago when AT&T cleared the last major hurdle standing in the way of WarnerMedia.
This was then followed by the confirmation that both the leaders of HBO and Turner were stepping down after significant tenures at the top. Since those stepping downs only arrived at the end of the week, and with the announcing of a major restructuring to the WarnerMedia model on Monday morning, the events collectively point towards a highly orchestrated set of events which immediately kicked in the moment AT&T realized WarnerMedia was in the clear.
Reading between the lines it would seem this move is designed to cut the costs the company deems to be extravagant while at the same time increase the control over a fuller and more-inclusive ‘WarnerMedia product.’
This also tallies well with the fact AT&T is planning on launching a new streaming service towards the end of 2019. It was already confirmed that service would revolve around WarnerMedia content and likely spearheaded by HBO. Today's announcement seems to all but confirm the service will indeed be even more WarnerMedia-centric than had previously been thought.
While HBO still might be the leading light of the service the various entertainment entities controlled by WarnerMedia are now being more tightly packaged and with a greater separation to WarnerMedia's News and Family assets.
This more centralized approach also means all aspects related to operations now have greater central oversight. For example, WarnerMedia confirmed that “all WarnerMedia Affiliates and Advertising Sales Groups” will be consolidated “under one unified structure.”
When the news broke that HBO’s Richard Plepler was stepping down, it was reported that a ‘lack of autonomy’ was one of the reasons behind the departure. Following today’s announcement, that lack of autonomy is likely to be in reference to some of the changes that are being reflected here.
As part of the realignment, greater oversight will also now be afforded to the WarnerMedia News & Sports, and Warner Bros leads, Jeff Zucker and Kevin Tsujihara, respectively.