AT&T To Combine WarnerMedia’s Turner And HBO Divisions, Turner President David Levy And HBO President Richard Plepler To Leave The Company

AT&T To Combine WarnerMedia's Turner And HBO Divisions, Turner President David Levy And HBO President Richard Plepler To Leave The Company

AT&T To Combine WarnerMedia’s Turner And HBO Divisions, Turner President David Levy And HBO President Richard Plepler To Leave The Company

Over the past couple of days (28th February and 1st March), AT&T, the ultimate parent company of Turner (the owner of Cartoon Network) via AT&T’s WarnerMedia is planning some structural changes to the way WarnerMedia is run, particularly its television division.

The plan is to merge its two television channel divisions – Turner which focuses on basic package cable channels and its premium entertainment and movies channel brand – HBO (Home Box Office). Also WarnerMedia is planning a direct-to-consumer streaming service which will feature HBO content in its core package, plus content from Turner’s general entertainment and kids brands.

On Thursday (28th February), it emerged that the President of Turner – David Levy will be leaving the company after 33 years, his career at Turner dates all the way back before the Turner/Time Warner merger and years before Cartoon Network started broadcasting.

In a internal company memo, David Levy said:

“I have decided the time is right to leave my role. I am ready for a professional change. Turner has been a significant part of my life and I will watch from the sidelines as this company continues to produce more amazing moments. The next few months will be filled with many new ‘firsts’ and experiences. I am confident that you all will show that true maverick spirit this company was founded on to march forward and continue the standard of excellence we have built and enjoyed.”

The news of David Levy’s resignation follows news that AT&T has finally jumped over the last legal hurdle in its acquisition of Time Warner (Now WarnerMedia), which was a lengthy appeals court battle. Telecommunications conglomerate AT&T acquired Time Warner in June last year and the merger itself was announced in October 2016. On Thursday, the CEO of HBO – Richard Plepler also announced that he’s also leaving the company.

Both Mr Levy and Mr Plepler reported to WarnerMedia’s new CEO – John Stankey, who replaced Jeff Bewkes. Also Turner’s CEO John Martin stepped down immediately after the AT&T merger in June, leaving the post vacant.

There’s no official word on who will manage the combined Turner/HBO unit, some sources including The Hollywood Reporter and Variety suggest that AT&T is currently in talks with former NBC Entertainment chairman – Bob Greenblatt.

In addition to the HBO/Turner changes, WarnerMedia is planning to sell its 10% stake in Hulu, a popular online streaming service for TV shows in the United States to Disney. Disney is also in a similar situation to AT&T as its merging with 21st Century Fox, after the Fox/Disney merger and after buying WarnerMedia’s 10% stake, Disney will own 70% of the Hulu streaming service, with 30% still owned by Comcast (NBC).

Last October, AT&T said there won’t be any big changes at Turner, there was no mention about combining Turner with HBO, but hopefully this will be the only significant change, merging business units together usually leads to cost cutting measures such as administration which also leads to job losses. At present, there’s no news on how these significant changes will affect Cartoon Network and rest of Turner’s children’s and young adults division. In many parts of the world, HBO and Turner already work together, they already share offices in London, Turner’s kids streaming service in Scandinavia – Toonix is available via HBO Nordic’s streaming service, Cartoon Network shows are available via the HBO GO streaming service available in parts of Europe and Turner already operates HBO South Asia on behalf of the company.

https://variety.com/2019/tv/news/hbo-tnt-tbs-warnermedia-bob-greenblatt-richard-plepler-john-stankey-1203152672/

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/03/01/media/turner-president-david-levy-leaving-as-att-prepares-to-install-new-leadership/index.html

http://www.cablefax.com/distribution/disney-in-talks-to-acquire-atts-hulu-stake

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/warnermedia-eyes-bob-greenblatt-major-new-role-1189138

WarnerMedia Now Fully Owns Anime Streaming Service Crunchyroll

WarnerMedia Now Fully Owns Anime Streaming Service Crunchyroll

WarnerMedia Now Fully Owns Anime Streaming Service Crunchyroll

Today (7th August), Cartoon Network’s ultimate parent company – AT&T has fully acquired Otter Media, the owner of Japanese anime streaming service – Crunchyroll and the multiple entertainment brand aggregator streaming service – VRV. Complete control of Otter Media will be under the responsibility of AT&T’s entertainment division – WarnerMedia. Before the full buyout, The company was a joint-venture between AT&T and The Cherin Group – a media and entertainment investment company. The full acquisition of Otter Media includes its wholly-owned subsidiary Ellation, an online subscription video service provider that owns and operates Crunchyroll and VRV, entertainment company – Rooster Teeth and YouTube multichannel network – Fullscreen. Otter Media also has ownership stakes in global content studio Gunpowder & Sky, as well as Hello Sunshine, a media company founded by Reese Witherspoon.

Since its founding in 2014, Otter Media has established a global audience of more than 93 million unique monthly customers and is on reach to target 75 billion video views this year. The company is also one of the top-ten subscription video on demand providers with more than 2 million subscribers. VRV subscribers have access to Otter Media’s Crunchyroll and Rooster Teeth but also rival anime service – Funimation and also Cartoon Hangover – a channel that features original animated series from Frederator Studios, the same company that co-produced Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time.

WarnerMedia already has an anime content brand – Toonami, which is an anime programming block that airs on Saturday nights on Adult Swim USA, however no information has been released on how the full acquisition of Crunchyroll would affect the existing programming block. Although, last November, Jason DeMarco, Creative Director for on-air at Adult Swim and Producer and co-creator of Toonami has said the block will continue until at least the year 2021.

http://comicbook.com/anime/2017/11/19/toonami-to-continue-until-2021/

From The WarnerMedia Press Release: AT&T Acquires Full Ownership of Otter Media

AT&T has acquired The Chernin Group’s controlling interest in Otter Media, the joint venture between the two companies. Otter Media, a leading subscription, advertising and content
company, comprises wholly-owned subsidiaries Ellation, an online subscription video service provider, with offerings under the Crunchyroll and VRV brands, as well as a full-service digital media company, Fullscreen, and its Rooster Teeth brand. Otter also has ownership stakes in global content studio Gunpowder & Sky, as well as Hello Sunshine, a media company founded by Reese Witherspoon.

Otter Media will be a part of AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit and Tony Goncalves, who was appointed Otter CEO earlier this year, will continue to run the company, reporting to WarnerMedia CEO, John Stankey.

“We are thrilled to incorporate the Otter Media brands and talent into WarnerMedia,” said John Stankey, WarnerMedia CEO. “Working with Tony, we look to harness Otter’s expertise in feeding the passion of on-line audiences to augment our portfolio of digital assets and help us further engage, connect and entertain consumers around the globe.”

AT&T and The Chernin Group founded Otter Media in 2014 to invest and develop platforms and properties that capitalized on the growth of direct-to-consumer subscription and advertising models, as well as the rise of new digital media brands.

In the four years since Otter Media’s founding, interest in consuming video online and via mobile devices has only accelerated. In that time, the company has established a global audience of more than 93 million unique monthly consumers and is on pace to deliver over 75 billion video views this year. Additionally, the company is one of the top-ten subscription video on demand (SVOD) providers with more than 2 million paying SVOD subscribers.

“From the outset, Randall Stephenson and John Stankey championed the Otter strategy and vision, and AT&T has been an ideal partner in building the business — smart, creative and supportive,” said Peter Chernin, CEO, The Chernin Group. “With AT&T’s direct-to-consumer relationships, vast data and varied content, I believe they can accelerate Otter’s growth. The combination with WarnerMedia will create a new-era media company, serving customers with every type of content delivered through every possible distribution channel.”

“The Chernin Group’s support and expertise has helped us expand Otter’s capabilities and refine our strategy over the past several years, and today’s news is a testament to our team’s dedication to super-serving passionate audiences across multiple platforms,” said Tony Goncalves, Otter Media CEO. “Otter’s digital-native talent pool understands that today’s viewers want their entertainment mobile, social and community-centric. We plan to harness Otter’s talent and scale to engage and entertain fans around the world on their own terms. And we will continue to be agile and nimble — a hallmark of Otter Media’s culture — so we can deliver the digital, social-first content that our audiences want.”

“Otter is delivering on our mission to build a leading portfolio of direct-to-consumer media brands that have passionate fans and a multi-pronged business model,” said Jesse Jacobs, President, The Chernin Group. “With AT&T’s portfolio in media, distribution and content, combined with Tony’s leadership, we believe full ownership by AT&T will take these businesses to the next level.”

The Otter Media companies have built large networks of talented creators and influencers and have deep libraries of video content. The Otter Media portfolio includes Ellation, a transformative entertainment company and home of industry-leading platforms Crunchyroll and VRV. Crunchyroll is a SVOD service that gives millions of fans access to a vast library of anime content. VRV aggregates and distributes content from multiple over-the-top content providers, including Crunchyroll and Rooster Teeth.

Another key part of the Otter Media family, Fullscreen, is a digital media company that empowers talent and brands to build and monetize highly engaged, social-first audiences through best-in-class strategy, creative services and technology. Fullscreen began as a network of creators, social influencers and YouTube stars that is now 4,500 strong. Since its inception, it has diversified to include branded content, traditional advertising and social media marketing.

Rooster Teeth serves up original shorts, series, comedies and animation for a diverse gaming audience through an owned and operated SVOD service and website, as well as by licensing content to third parties.

AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit was created after the close of the Time Warner acquisition in June 2018. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it did not have a material effect on AT&T’s first-half 2018 results when the majority of the deal was funded. This acquisition does not change the company’s plan to reduce its net-debt-to-adjusted-EBITDA ratio to the 2.5x range by the end of 2019 and to its historical range by the end of 2022.

http://www.warnermediagroup.com/newsroom/press-releases/2018/08/07/att-acquires-full-ownership-of-otter-media

Time Warner Rebrands As WarnerMedia Following AT&T Merger

Warner Media Logo

Time Warner Rebrands As WarnerMedia Following AT&T Merger

Yesterday (15th June) and within hours of AT&T formally merging with Time Warner, AT&T’s newly acquired ex-Time Warner media business unit as renamed itself as “WarnerMedia”, ending the use of the “Time Warner” corporate brand which was originally introduced in 1990 and has been used in various forms since. The new logo has a simple design with a sans-serif font with black and white background variants. The use of the Time Warner brand in recent years has been rather confusing, this is why a new name was needed, especially when Time Warner Cable was spun-off in 2009 (now part of Charter Communications as of 2016) leaving two separate companies with the same name. Also Time Warner spun-off its publishing division – Time Inc. in 2013, so the company had no reason to use The “Time” name either. It’s likely that the company didn’t want to rebrand as the company was up for sale and a buyer would likely change the name anyway.

Following the $85 billion merger, the CEO of AT&T – Randall Stephenson has promised to make sure that WarnerMedia and its sub-divisions (Warner Bros, HBO and Turner) will continue to have the same level of creative freedom as if it was still an independent company, the reason being is that AT&T’s core business is communications and not media, they would rather allow existing management who know the media industry to continue to work for WarnerMedia. AT&T has also promised to invest $21 billion into the WarnerMedia business to help it compete against fast-growing new-media rivals – Netflix and Amazon.

In a statement about WarnerMedia’s continued creative independence, Randall Stephenson said: “We’re big fans of your talent and creativity. And you have my word that you will continue to have the creative freedom and resources to keep doing what you do best.”

The division of WarnerMedia that owns Cartoon Network, Boomerang and other associated brands – Turner has already seen a major management change, the CEO of Turner – John Martin is stepping down, it’s not known on how much of an impact that AT&T’s acquisition will have on Turner, but they said, very little will change, although people are concerned over job redundancies because of cost efficiency reasons and there will be some redundancies at the corporate functions level. Turner President – David Levy, Turner International President – Gerhard Zeiler and CNN Worldwide President – Jeff Zucker will be running the company at least in the interim following John Martin’s departure. All three will report to WarnerMedia’s new CEO – John Stankey, who himself also replaces ex-Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes.

The Time Warner website has been updated to include the new WarnerMedia logo, as of yet, nothing much has changed.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/t-ceo-says-ready-invest-keep-culture-time-162401452–finance.html

https://variety.com/2018/tv/news/att-time-warner-warnermedia-turner-chief-john-martin-1202848405/

http://money.cnn.com/2018/06/15/media/warnermedia-john-stankey-announcements/index.html

https://nypost.com/2018/06/15/time-warner-will-be-renamed-warner-media-turner-ceo-exits/