Market Overview

One Media Expert's Take On Why Plepler Quit HBO

One Media Expert's Take On Why Plepler Quit HBO

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) CEO Randall Stephenson publicly praised HBO executive Richard Plepler on many occasions after buying the media property, but now the HBO executive is calling it quits after 27 years. The sudden move had CNBC's Andrew Sorkin asking New York Times media reporter and CNBC contributor Ed Lee: "what went wrong?"

What Happened

Plepler's decision to quit the media business is likely a function of the "job being different" under AT&T's umbrella, Lee said. Prior to AT&T's acquisition of HBO, the channel was a "very separate enterprise" within the former Warner Media portfolio.

Now AT&T will "collapse a lot of the back-end operations" and John Stankey, a former AT&T executive now in charge of media, will be leading the strategy, Lee said. 

"When there is less strategy for you to work on, what do you do at that kind of company?"

Why It's Important

The main concern some investors likely have is that HBO will become more of a mass market and less of a premium offering under AT&T's control. This could occur to a degree, Lee said, and the main challenge for AT&T is to "supercharge" its network with more content and a compelling over-the-top streaming platform.

What's Next

Despite recent management shuffles, Stephenson and Stankey will continue emphasizing HBO as being the "centerpiece" of AT&T's media brand going forward, Lee said. HBO is the "best brand" in the property, but the company needs to make the platform "bigger and broader," Lee said — but without triggering consumer backlash. 

Related Links:

Report: AT&T In Talks With Media Heavyweight To Run HBO, Turner

Analysts: AT&T Earnings Weren't That Bad

Posted-In: CNBC Ed Lee HBO Randall Stephenson Richard PleplerNews Management Media Best of Benzinga


Related Articles (T)

View Comments and Join the Discussion!
Don't Miss Any Updates!
News Directly in Your Inbox
Subscribe to:
Benzinga Premarket Activity
Get pre-market outlook, mid-day update and after-market roundup emails in your inbox.
Market in 5 Minutes
Everything you need to know about the market - quick & easy.
Daily Analyst Rating
A summary of each day’s top rating changes from sell-side analysts on the street.
Fintech Focus
A daily collection of all things fintech, interesting developments and market updates.
Thank You

Thank you for subscribing! If you have any questions feel free to call us at 1-877-440-ZING or email us at

A Week In Tesla: SEC Alarms, Low-Cost Model 3 And Dealership Closures

'Sizable Amounts Of Short Covering' In Canopy Growth