Depending on who you ask, comparing something to Walmart is either a huge diss or a capitalism-inspired compliment. At any rate, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson used the Walmart comparison during the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference Wednesday when discussing Netflix and the AT&T-backed HBO.
"HBO is a very, very unique asset," Stephenson said, according to CNBC. "I think of Netflix kind of as the Walmart of [subscription video-on-demand services]. HBO is kind of the Tiffany."
Behind the scenes, AT&T execs have discussed what they feel is a need for HBO to pursue "bigger and broader" projects in order to boost subscriber stats and directly compete with streaming services of Netflix's scope.
"I want more hours of engagement," Warner Media's chief exec John Stankey said back in July. "Why are more hours of engagement important? Because you get more data and information about a customer that then allows you to do things like monetize through alternate models of advertising as well as subscriptions, which I think is very important to play in tomorrow's world." Stephenson, however, argued this week that AT&T's recent acquisition of Time Warner gave them "as good a portfolio of premium content" as its competitors.
Interestingly enough, Walmart is rumored to be making a play of its own in the increasingly crowded streaming industry. A Deadline report in July claimed Walmart had enlisted the help of noted TV exec Mark Greenberg, known for his previous senior exec-level work with networks including HBO and Showtime. All told, Walmart is reportedly still in the "early states of development" regarding a Netflix-esque streaming service.