Bentley, as GM and executive VP for Direct-to-Consumer Development at WarnerMedia, will oversee all aspects of the company’s forthcoming direct-to-consumer streaming service, which AT&T has said is targeted to launch in the fourth quarter of 2019. The new yet-to-be-named service, debuting initially in the U.S., will combine content from HBO, Turner and Warner Bros. and may include programming licensed from third parties.
WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey announced Bentley’s appointment in a memo to staff Monday, which was obtained by Variety.
In the new role, Bentley reports directly to Stankey and is responsible for managing the overall cost, schedule and performance of the service and establishing its profit-and-loss structure. Bentley “played a similar role in the launch of DirecTV Now,” Stankey wrote, “and we welcome his experience and insight.” Bentley had worked at DirecTV since 2000; AT&T closed its acquisition of DirecTV in 2015.
In another management change, Jeremy Legg, Turner’s chief technology officer, will assume overall responsibilities for Turner and HBO technology operations, according to Stankey’s memo.
“There is an extraordinary tech team at HBO that has helped lead their successful digital strategy and will continue to do so in the evolving digital business,” Stankey wrote in the memo. The expansion of Legg’s duties to also oversee HBO’s technology group “allows us to execute decisively to align on target platforms, and coordinate the resources across these organizations that represent components of a unified direct-to-consumer technology platform.”
Stankey, who previously ran the AT&T Entertainment Group prior to the telco’s closing the Time Warner acquisition this summer, noted that he will “coordinate the overall direct-to-consumer development effort,” working closely with the respective division heads.
“These initial changes are intended to build a direct-to-consumer organization and execution capability necessary to move the overall effort forward and answer the many questions that must be addressed prior to launch,” Stankey wrote in the memo. “As work streams are better defined, I expect there will be further changes and adjustments to our operating model — exactly what, when and who, remains a work in progress that will be heavily influenced by this early work.”
“I fully expect our journey in the coming months will cause us to assess, recalibrate and adjust time and again,” the WarnerMedia chief wrote.
Under AT&T’s wing, WarnerMedia businesses have shut down two smaller-scale direct-to-consumer services — FilmStruck, from Turner and Warner Bros. Digital Networks, and WBDN’s DramaFever — after the telco announced the plans to launch a mainstream subscription VOD service in 2019. Turner also shuttered its Super Deluxe edgy digital studio.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, Criterion Collection — which had been an exclusive partner for FilmStruck — announced plans to launch a standalone streaming service for cinephiles next year under a new deal with WarnerMedia.