He added, "As I step back and think about what's unique about the brand and where it needs to go, there's got to be a little more depth to it, there's got to be more frequent engagement".
It basically sounds like Stankey, who now oversees HBO as chief executive of the newly formed Warner Media, wants the network to greatly expand its subscriber base, the number of hours its subscribers spend watching its shows, and of course, the amount of money HBO pulls in.
John Stankey, the new overseer of HBO post-AT&T merger, has predicted a hard year ahead for the network, which he likened to the pains of childbirth.
"We need hours a day", Stankey said, referring to viewer engagement with HBO. These are important because they could get more information from customers that allows them to profit through alternate methods of advertising, he explained.
Game of Thrones is wrapping up next season anyway, but it would be interesting to see if a series such as GoT would make the cut in AT&T's vision of a meme-ified HBO.
Alex Gilyadov is a writer for IGN. Since there has yet to be any discussion of increasing HBO's budget - AT&T went significantly into debt to purchase Time Warner - the assumption is the network must do more with its current budget.
HBO CEO Richard Plepler, who The Times said hosted the town-hall event with Stankey, previously stressed the importance of AT&T staying out of HBO's process. The assembled HBO execs could be forgiven to have felt a tad taken aback by this stance, given their company's dominance of all-time great TV lists, but it looks like mere quality is no longer enough.
Only time will tell what changes the high-profile merger will actually bring about to the network, but viewers can most definitely expect some significant differences as well as new additions.
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HBO has made a steady profit; for the past three years, it's put more than $2 billion a year toward programming, while making a profit of nearly $6 billion. Stankey said that AT&T and HBO will have to "figure [that] out".
He also warned employees that their workload could increase substantially.
"You will work very hard, and this next year will - my wife hates it when I say this - feel like childbirth", he told 150 HBO employees at a recent town-hall event, The Times said.
HBO now spends about $2 billion a year on content, much of it critically acclaimed.
HBO has 40 million subscribers in the U.S. and 142 million worldwide, but Stankey said that AT&T intends to make HBO "a much more common product". Stankey said, to which Plepler responded, "We do that".