WarnerMedia is getting narrower in the hope of getting bigger. And several networks could change as a result.
The company, which controls high-profile entertainment properties including HBO and the Warner Bros. movie studio, is reshuffling divisions and executives as new owner AT&T aims to keep pace with better-heeled competitors in a direct-to-consumer age.
The most significant change, announced Monday, comes as HBO and parts of Turner Broadcasting, historically two separate divisions, have been brought together under newly hired executive Robert Greenblatt.
Greenblatt, AT&T said, has been hired for the newly created role of chairman, WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct to Consumer.
The company hopes the former Showtime and NBC executive can increase and tailor content on both HBO and TNT/TBS/truTV for a planned streaming service.
His appointment follows the announcement last week that Richard Plepler and David Levy, who headed HBO and Turner respectively, will be leaving the company.
In addition to the TNT-TBS axis, Greenblatt also is being handed a large degree of oversight for the company’s planned new streaming service.
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The question of these networks’ future will be one of the most closely watched in television in the coming months — particularly at HBO, which first inaugurated, then dominated, the 2000’s era of upscale television now practiced widely across the cable and streaming worlds.
Meanwhile, CNN Worldwide chief Jeff Zucker has been given charge of the sports units formerly in Levy’s portfolio, which includes Turner’s rights to NBA and Major League Baseball games.
And Warner Bros. chairman-CEO Kevin Tsujihara will be taking over Turner’s remaining content branch of Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang and Turner Classic Movies.
AT&T reached a deal to buy Time Warner in late 2016, betting the latter’s technology and distribution infrastructure would fit well with, and benefit from, a vast trove of content assets.