×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

AT&T Mobility’s David Christopher on Time Warner Merger, DirecTV Acquisition and Going Hollywood

David Christopher, chief marketing officer of AT&T Mobility’s Entertainment Group, talked to Variety about the wireless provider’s ventures in Hollywood as it aims to compete in the new media landscape. Christopher is re-locating from Atlanta to El Segundo, Calif., along with the rest of the Entertainment Group, as the company ramps up its video offerings following the 2015 acquisition of DirecTV by AT&T. The company is also awaiting regulatory approval for the merger with Time Warner, which would give it access to a litany of video content, including HBO and CNN. AT&T last week hosted an expo that brought together Hollywood figures like “Zero Dark Thirty” director Kathryn Bigelow and others. The event featured hands-on demonstration of the latest technology, like VR, expected to disrupt the filmmaking business.

What can we expect to see from AT&T now that its Entertainment Group is relocating to Hollywood?
If you step back a minute, there’s this big convergence going on between telecom and media, and we believe the opportunity to create new and great experiences for customer is the opportunity in front of us. We’re moving to Entertainment Group Marking and Advertising to L.A. to be closer to the creative community, closer to entrepreneurs. We think that proximity to Hollywood and Silicon Beach is so important. And so, that’s what we’re up to.

Where does AT&T fit in the shifting media landscape?
There’s no one-size-fits-all with media or entertainment. We are investing heavily in our premium TV business. We’re investing in over-the-top streaming businesses with DirecTV Now; we’re investing in made-for-digital content via our partnership with the Chernin Group and a joint venture we have called Otter Media. That joint venture has some really important companies in it. Fullscreen Media, as an example, is a made-for-digital company, made for millennial, by millennials. It has 70 billion views at any given time. Crunchyroll is (another) example, it’s a Japanese anime company. We are investing across the media landscape to meet the wide variety of customer needs that are out there.

With the existing wireless customer base, what will AT&T do to make sure it remains competitive as more consumers watch video on their mobile devices?
Roughly 70% of the traffic on our network is video, and we’ve been architecting our mobile network to be a video-first network for years. We’ve changed our plans to be unlimited because that’s what customers want. When you have DirecTV and Mobility, your content streams are basically free. We’ve been making really important steps to create a best-in-class, entertainment-plus mobile experience.

What about specific products AT&T customers can look forward to?
We really believe in in a “better together” concept: the more you engage with AT&T, the better it gets. An example of that, is our unlimited customers who have DirecTV can get DirecTV for $25 with a premium TV service or $10 for DirecTV now. You can expect more of that from us.

What’s the value of a merger with Time Warner?
The merger with Time Warner is about innovation in the premium video space. It’s about delivering entertainment where and when and how customers want it. That’s why we’re excited about the merger.

Looking out a few years, how quickly do you see things changing and how should companies react to cord-cutting by customers?
We believe in creating a broad array of solutions for different customers. Several years ago we weren’t participating in the over-the-top space at all. Roughly 20% … of the American population doesn’t have a premium video subscription at all. Before we launched DirecTV Now, we weren’t even playing in that space. Having solutions for different customers, whether it be premium, whether it be streaming, whether it be made-for-digital, made-for-social is what we are doing and innovating in each of those areas is critical for us and critical for any company.

What challenges does a fractured media landscape pose for media companies
Media will continue to fragment and it creates an opportunity for companies that can create solutions for different cohorts of customers, no matter what they want. There will be a really important premium TV business and at the same time there will be an important, over-the-top streaming business, and there will be an important social, only consumed-on-digital business. We’ve got to be adept to meet each of those markets.

More Digital

  • Simran Sethi Quits Netflix India Role

    Simran Sethi Quits Netflix India Role

    Simran Sethi, the Los Angeles-based director of Netflix international originals, responsible for India content, has resigned and will quit after a transition period. Netflix did not comment. Sources familiar with the matter told Variety that Netflix prefers an executive based in India to oversee local original content that has now grown to 11 series and [...]

  • The Secret Life of Pets 2

    ‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Universal Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “The Secret Life of Pets 2.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $11.52 million through Sunday for 869 national ad airings [...]

  • Cory-Haik-Vice

    Vice Media Hires Cory Haik, Former Mic Publisher, as Chief Digital Officer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Vice Media has recruited Cory Haik, former publisher of digital news start-up Mic, as chief digital officer to lead the youth-culture company’s global internet businesses. Haik will be based at Vice’s Brooklyn headquarters and report to CEO Nancy Dubuc. She most recently worked at Mic, which last fall laid off virtually its entire staff before [...]

  • Snapchat logos

    Porn Studio Starts Building X-Rated Snapchat Lenses, Encourages Users to Do the Same

    Adult entertainment company Naughty America wants to use augmented reality to get the word out about its paid services. The company has begun to make Snapchat lenses featuring some of its models, and is teaching its audience to do the same. Naughty America shared three such lenses on its website (link not safe for work) [...]

  • New, Likely Cheaper Galaxy Home Speaker

    Samsung Is Getting Ready to Introduce Second Smart Speaker

    Samsung still isn’t selling its Galaxy Home smart speaker, but the company may be getting ready to introduce a second model soon: An FCC filing for an “AI speaker” suggests that the new model, like the original Galaxy Home, will be dual-branded, featuring both Samsung’s own brand name as well as that of its audio [...]

  • Streaming Placeholder

    TikTok Owner Preparing Streaming Service to Rival Spotify (Report)

    ByteDance, the Beijing-based owner of the TikTok video app, is developing a paid streaming music service aimed at the same emerging markets that Spotify and Apple are seeking to explore, according to a report in Bloomberg. The app could be introduced as early as autumn, according to the report, which adds that the company has [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content