AT&T Targets Digital Subscription Service to Help Defray Merger Costs

Leaders of AT&T have a daunting year ahead.

The company aims to reinvent the future economic foundation of the businesses it acquired from Time Warner — HBO, Turner and Warner Bros. — at the same time top brass is still getting its arms around how to operate those marquee properties. AT&T has also promised Wall Street that by this time next year, it will shave $20 billion from its $170 billion debt load and realize $700 million in post-merger synergy savings. What’s more, AT&T’s ambitious plans to capitalize on its $85.4 billion acquisition come as the competitive environment in TV, streaming, advertising sales, data mining and content production grows fiercer by
the day.

For one, Disney has equally ambitious plans to launch its Disney Plus subscription streaming venture by the end of next year. That’s the same time frame AT&T has earmarked for the debut (at least in beta form) of its still-unnamed SVOD platform fueled by WarnerMedia content assets.

“What you’re seeing are some significant business-model shifts as well,” Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman-CEO, told Wall Street analysts Nov. 29. “These shifts are happening faster than we’ve [ever] seen them, particularly on the media side.” He added that media companies are “scrambling” and “working hard to figure out how to deliver their content directly to their audience, and how to have a relationship with their audience.”


TV's Next Commercial Break Might Be the Pause in Your Binge (EXCLUSIVE)

AT&T Chief Randall Stephenson Talks 'Friends' Rights, HBO vs. Netflix, DirecTV's New Bundles