Time Warner rebrands to WarnerMedia following AT&T acquisition

AT&T has completed its acquisition of Time Warner Inc, which consolidates major entertainment players such as Warner Bros, HBO and Turner. Moving forward, AT&T will consist of four businesses, a structure which aims to allow each business unit to operate independently and move swiftly. It also aims to innovate across AT&T with content connectivity and advertising, the statement read.

This will see the renaming of Time Warner to WarnerMedia – which represents AT&T’s media business comprising HBO, Turner and Warner Bros. Together, these businesses had revenues of more than US$31 billion in 2017, the statement revealed.

The new entity will be led by John Stankey, who has been appointed CEO. Prior to the move, Stankey led the integration planning team in support of the AT&T-Time Warner merger and held the role of CEO – AT&T mobility and entertainment before that. He also led the company’s acquisition of DIRECTV in 2015 when he was chief strategy officer, responsible for the company’s corporate strategy, M&A and business development initiatives.

According to an internal memo seen by CNNMoney, the rebrand was to ensure little confusion between Time Warner the media company, and Time Warner the former cable company. Referred to as a “naming convention”, Stankey explained that the confused was not going away in the near future due to consumer research. As such, it was easier and more economical to change the name than invest in advertising to clear up confusion.

The same memo also revealed the departure of Turner CEO John Martin. This will see Turner president David Levy, international president Gerhard Zeiler and CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker all report to Stankey moving forward.

Marketing has reached out to AT&T and Time Warner for additional comment.

Another key unit is AT&T’s advertising and analytics business, which will be renamed at a later date, the statement added. The unit looks to provide marketers with advanced advertising solutions by using customer insights from AT&T’s TV, mobile and broadband services. This is combined with extensive ad inventory from Turner and AT&T’s pay-TV services.

The business will be led by Brian Lesser as CEO, who is tasked with launching the company and leading the development of advertising platforms across AT&T. In this new role, Lesser will create new options for advertisers and publishers to find and reach specific audiences at scale in a trusted, premium content environment.

The new company will also invest in a real-time advertising marketplace that looks to offer end-to-end solutions and provide advertisers and publishers with relevant, automated and attributable advertising capabilities. This premium advertising marketplace will be focus on premium, brand-safe, content – across screens – that take advantage of AT&T’s valuable video, mobile and broadband customer insights and data.

Prior to the move, Lesser served as CEO of GroupM North America, where he was responsible for overseeing strategy and operations for GroupM’s 16 leading agencies and specialist companies in North America, including Mindshare, Mediacom, Wavemaker, Essence and Xaxis. Before that, Brian was global CEO of Xaxis, a company he founded in 2011 – which later came under GroupM.

Other units include AT&T Communications which serves to provide mobile, broadband, video and other communications services to US-based consumers and nearly 3.5 million companies. Lastly, AT&T International provides mobile services in Mexico to consumers and businesses, plus pay-TV service across 11 countries in South America and the Caribbean.

Plans for the acquisition first emerged in 2016, with AT&T announcing that it planned to acquire Time Warner for US$85.4 billion - a deal that could result in one of the biggest media companies in the US. Time Warner is the parent of CNN, TNT, HBO, the Warner Bros. studio, and other channels and websites.