HBO CEO Richard Plepler: We Will Invest a Lot More in Content

October 10, 2018

By Carlo Versano

HBO was planning to expand its content footprint even before AT&T completed its acquisition of the network's parent company, said HBO's CEO and chairman, Richard Plepler.

"Our new parents at WarnerMedia, when they came in and the deal was closed, were totally supportive of [us expanding]," Plepler said.

Plepler and his deputy, Casey Bloys, spoke to Cheddar from the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in Los Angeles immediately following reports that AT&T would roll out its own steaming service in 2019, featuring HBO content, to rival Netflix ($NFLX).

Shortly after AT&T ($T) closed its purchase of what was then Time Warner, its CEO Randall Stephenson memorably said HBO was the Tiffany to Netflix's Walmart.

The question for HBO becomes whether the network can keep that Tiffany ($TIF) patina, even as it pumps out more content for a wider audience. Given its brand and track record, Plepler said he has a line out the door of actors, writers, and "innovators," and he "doesn't want to turn anyone away" if they suit HBO's mission.

"We have the great blessing of the best storytellers in the world constantly coming to want to work for HBO," he said.

Part of HBO's plans include further investment in news and documentary programming following the success of its recent partnerships with Vice. New shows from Axios and Crooked Media will debut on the network this fall and are intended to capture interest in the midterms ー particularly for millennials who are engaged in politics. Plepler said those programming deals are all of a certain quality, content that brings "civility, intelligence, and clarity" to a complicated world.

Still, HBO is in the business of producing big-budget, high-level drama and comedy series, and the network isn't slowing down or deviating from its core values.

Bloys, who runs programming for the network, ticked off a partial list of new and returning series that will air next year: new seasons of "True Detective," "Big Little Lies," "The Deuce," and "Succession"; the final seasons of "Game of Thrones" and "Veep"; and a highly anticipated Damon Lindelof-led project based on the "Watchmen" comics.

"'[2019] is going to be the most robust and varied year of programming in the history of HBO," Plepler said.

For full interview click here.