business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

This story from Variety is, I think, a good example of how fast-evolving business realities can force companies to get outside their traditional lanes as they seek greater - or just sustained - relevance.

It has to do with AT&T, which has just acquired the parent company of HBO, and now is launching a new streaming entity called HBO Max.

Essentially, AT&T wanted WarnerMedia - which owned HBO - so that it would have content that it could supply to its customers on its service via its various devices. As part of that effort, the company has bee marshaling various properties - like the TV series “Friends” - and taking it off competitive services so it can be seen on HBO Max.

But that’s not enough, and so AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson now is saying that the HBO Max streaming service “will eventually include live sports and news programming,” shows that ordinarily are seen on mainstream broadcast networks … though streaming services like Amazon Prime have been making plays for sporting events as a way of driving up their viewership and membership.

According to the story, “Stephenson cited WarnerMedia’s existing relationships with Major League Baseball, the NBA and NCAA men’s basketball tournament but it was unclear if he was indicating that HBO Max would seek to acquire streaming rights from those leagues.”

I find in all this an Eye-Opening metaphor for what retailers, faced with greater competition than ever, need to be doing these days.

You look for every possible advantage, every possible strength, every available differentiator, and you exploit them in every possible way. You offer products and services that strengthen your connection to the shopper, that whenever possible create barriers to the shopper looking elsewhere. You develop a narrative that will resonate with your customers, and you actually use available and actionable data.

You do all these things. And then you do them again. And again. And again.
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