Turner chairman and CEO John Martin seemed very confident that the merger between AT&T and Time Warner is going to go through during his on-stage appearance at Recode’s Code Media conference in Huntington Beach, Calif. Tuesday. “It is a massive misallocation of resources and capital to fight this thing,” Martin said about the Department Of Justice’s (DOJ) lawsuit against the deal. “They are going to lose.”
Martin argued that the vertical integration of the two companies wouldn’t threaten competition. “I think the government is clueless,” he said. However, Martin also contended that Turner would be just fine even if the deal would fall apart “The future is really bright, no matter what happens,” he said.
Turner’s chief exec was joined on stage by A+E Networks president and CEO Nancy Dubuc, who used the opportunity to address her decision not to join Amazon Studios. Dubuc had been a contender to replace former Amazon Studios president Roy Price, who was forced out in November over sexual harassment allegations.
However, she took herself out of the competition in January. “The timing for me wasn’t right,” she said, adding that she fully supported Amazon’s choice to give the job to NBC’s Jennifer Salke.
Martin fired some shots against Amazon’s video strategy, arguing that the company wasn’t spending enough on content to be taken seriously. “Amazon has had some success critically. But they haven’t really committed,” he said, jokingly adding: “And I hope they don’t.”
Still, Amazon has become a key distribution partner, especially as companies like A+E are looking to offset losses from cord cutting. Dubuc said that her company’s Lifetime Movie Club subscription service was doing “quite well,” thanks largely to being distributed via Amazon Channels.
Dubuc said that new types of skinny bundles and online subscription services were a big boon for A+E, and starting to make up for some of the traditional subscriber declines. “I take any bundle. We’ll be in it,” she quipped.
Martin shared that Turner had seen some success with direct-to-consumer businesses. Boomerang, the kids video subscription service Turner launched last March in cooperation with Warner Bros., was close to 150,00 subscribers, he revealed.
Dubuc said that folks at A+E tried to keep their heads down and executive while everyone is focused on mergers. But she also said that she’d expect media mergers to continue, including CBS partnering up with Viacom. “They have to get back together,” she said.