HBO chief: Quality won’t suffer under new owner AT&T

HBO chief: Quality won’t suffer under new owner AT&T
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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — HBO’s programming chief pushed back Wednesday against the possibility that the cable channel will suffer under new owner AT&T.

Casey Bloys, speaking to a meeting of TV critics, said there are no plans to choose volume over quality for its shows.

“No one is asking us to take pitches of a ‘Love Boat’ reboot or anything like that,” he said.

As support, Bloys cited comments made during an earnings call Tuesday by John Stankey, who manages the new AT&T division that includes HBO and other Time Warner media assets. AT&T acquired Time Warner in an $85 billion deal concluded earlier this month.

Stankey said that the aim was to invest more in premium content at HBO, home to “Game of Thrones,” ”Big Little Lies” and “Westworld.” In contrast, he reportedly told HBO staff recently to prepare for a difficult year.

Bloys called Tuesday’s remarks “music to our ears.”

Time Warner had curtailed programming investment as it readied itself for sale “so this is the first time in a long time we’ve heard anybody talking about investing in programming,” he said.

HBO has long held the high ground in acclaimed shows but is facing challenges from big-spending newcomers including streaming services Netflix and Amazon. In the recently announced Emmy nominations, Netflix ended HBO’s 17-year streak as the most-nominated outlet by snagging 112 bids to HBO’s 108.

The outcome was unsurprising given the overall volume of programming, Bloys said, a reference to the phenomenon dubbed “peak TV” that has given viewers nearly 500 series.

Getting four fewer nominations “is not going to change the type of programs that we develop and produce at all,” he said, but added that HBO does face the challenge of creating more programming without changing its approach.

“So that’s what we’re in discussion now. What’s the right level for us with this increased funding?” he said.

The Associated Press

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