AT&T's CEO compared Netflix to Walmart, while calling HBO the 'Tiffany' of streaming services in reference to the luxury jewellery retailer

HBODwayne Johnson in HBO’s ‘Ballers.’
  • AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson compared HBO to Tiffany, the luxury jewellery retailer, and Netflix to Walmart at a Goldman Sachs conference on Wednesday.
  • The comparison follows remarks made by WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey in July about expanding the quantity of HBO’s offerings to reach a “broad” audience that could better compete with services like Netflix.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson used a striking retail metaphor at a Goldman Sachs conference on Wednesday to compare the streaming offerings of Netflix and the AT&T-owned HBO.

“I think of Netflix as kind of the Walmart of SVOD [streaming video on demand]. HBO’s kind of the Tiffany,” Stephenson said at Goldman’s Communacopia conference.

Stephenson’s comparison of Netflix and HBO follows a series of comments from WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey in July about expanding the quantity of HBO’s offerings to reach a “broad” audience that could better compete with rival streaming services like Netflix.

Stankey said in a townhall conversation with HBO CEO Richard Plepler in July that HBO’s current subscriber numbers, around 40 million in the US and 142 million worldwide, were insufficient, and that the company would have to become a “much more common product,” according to a recording obtained by The New York Times.

Stephenson on Wednesday reportedly said he “concurs” with Stankey’s assessment, but his comments helped to clarify the cable outlet’s content-spending strategy.

“You’d like to fill out the schedule,” Stephenson said. “We’re not talking about Netflix-level of investments.”

Stephenson added that HBO needs a “more fulsome lineup and schedule” to combat the flux of subscribers who sign up for HBO to watch “Game of Thrones” and then leave when a season ends.

Nevertheless, BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield seized on Stephenson’s Tiffany-Walmart metaphor to note how drastically Walmart outperformed Tiffany in revenue last year:

And oddly enough, Walmart is itself exploring a subscription video-streaming service that would reportedly seek to challenge Netflix and Amazon, according to a Wall Street Journal report from July.

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