AT&T had a secret reason for wanting to get its hands on Time Warner - it wants to use 5G to get more people to watch TV shows while riding in self-driving cars
Avery Hartmans/Business Insider
- Warner Media CEO John Stankey told HBO employees that 5G and autonomous vehicles is an opportunity to get more content in front of consumers.
- The conversation was part of an internal town hall that leaked to the media.
- Stankey predicts that individuals will consume an hour to an hour and a half more content over the course of the next four years.
AT&T has its eyes squarely set on competing with Netflix.
That much was clear during a recent town-hall event where Warner Media CEO John Stankey addressed 150 HBO employees about the upcoming year.
But Stankey revealed a pair of unexpected motivations for AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner: 5G and autonomous vehicles.
Responding to a question about why 5G matters, Stankey took the time to talk about self-driving cars, according to a transcript of the event that Recode published.
"It does things like it opens up the ability for autonomous vehicles, vehicles that are self-driving," Stankey said. "Why do you care about vehicles that are self-driving? If you're not driving yourself to and from work to and from Los Angeles anymore, you can sit in the back seat and let the vehicle take you, what do you get? You get another hour or two hours to consume great content that you build every day."
5G is the fifth - and next - generation of wireless technology. Its expected to deliver faster speed than the current 4G LTE standard, and allow for "internet of things" deployments. Stankey sees this as a boon to content providers.
5G may create brand new media time for consumers
"So now you start to think about why am I bullish on building more content?," Stankey said. "Well, I think that the average number of hours that an individual consumes in a given day might actually increase somewhere in the range of an hour to an hour and a half over the course of the next four years because of that shift."
AT&T doesn't want consumers spending those additional hours on Facebook, Stankey said. It wants to build a product that draws prolonged engagement from consumers, and HBO will help it get there. But to get there, HBO needs to transform, offering bigger and broader content to boost customers' engagement, he said at the event.
That approach is a step in the right direction for AT&T's business model, Daniel Ives, the chief strategy officer at GBH Insights, told Business Insider. He noted that media companies that produce content will be busy in the upcoming year.
The next 12 to 18 months will be a "content arms race," Ives said.
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