The WarnerMedia chief technology officer is deep into the development of parent company AT&T’s highest priority next year. While rival efforts from Disney and Apple are already in market, he envisions launching a product that won’t be just another streaming platform.
For one thing, Legg is tinkering on tech that will do more than just power an algorithmically customized experience for users; he believes HBO Max will set itself apart from the pack by putting additional emphasis on collections of content chosen by actual people instead of computers.
“What we also want to do is add one element of curation to this that we don’t think exists in the SVOD space to the degree that will be in this product,” he said on the latest episode of Variety’s “Strictly Business” podcast.
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Part of the challenge of assembling HBO Max for Legg is also juggling the many different brands that will come under the product’s umbrella in a way that respects the individuality of each brand, from CNN to Warner Bros.
“You’ve got a lot of brands that normally people don’t think about coexisting together and you have to bring that into one application,” said Legg, one of the few remaining employees at WarnerMedia who came over from Time Warner’s disastrous AOL acquisition. “We don’t want to simply merchandise things and throw it into one funnel and say go find your content.”
But as Legg works on making sure the infrastructure is in place to support a massive streaming platform, he is mindful of the difficulties Disney Plus faced on-boarding the flood of consumers that tried to use that new app at launch last month. Because the internet is an open system in which very few links in the distribution chain are owned by programmers, being nimble is a must.
“The number of places where you can have problems that you don’t control are just broader than they are on the broadcast side of the fence,” Legg said.
“Strictly Business” is Variety‘s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment. Past episodes include conversations with Discovery CEO David Zaslav and Dana Walden, co-head of 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Television Group. A new episode debuts each Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and SoundCloud.