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And So It Begins

And So It Begins

Staring at the inevitable


As fans eagerly await the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, the CEO of the company that brought it to us, along with iconic series like The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Girls, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Big Little Lies, Veep, and literally dozens and dozens more “abruptly” announced last month he was leaving. Under his watch, HBO won more than 160 Emmys and legions of fans. He and the team he built changed TV.

Why would “one of the most influential executives in entertainment” leave the company he is largely responsible for building?

HBO has been a part of Time Warner which was bought by AT&T about 8 months ago.

Mr. Plepler found he had less autonomy after the merger, according to two people familiar with his thinking.”

And so it begins.

THIS ARTICLE in The Atlantic magazine calls it the end of an era and warns fans to brace themselves for “dramatic change.”

And THIS ONE in Forbes allows the new guy in charge to explain his reasons. “Layoffs are expected.”

Sound familiar?

Over my long career, I’ve been fortunate to work with some truly GREAT radio stations, legendary in their markets and countries: KIMN, NRJ, KRLD, WLLZ, RADIO EUROPA, WBIG…its a long list, so don’t be offended if I didn’t include your station here.

What I’ve learned is that great stations are rarely supplanted by competitors. They dismantle from within, as we now see happening at HBO.

It’s not that new ownership is trying to screw up valuable properties. They just can’t help believing they can make it better, and save money at the same time.

They can’t help the hubris they bring to every meeting with the people who’ve created so much value to the company just acquired.

And so, the best, the most creative, those with the most employment options, leave. The product begins to change. Viewers and listeners notice eventually. They begin to leave too. That creates the need for more cost-saving, and the cycle just goes on and on.

If you’ve been in our business for any length of time, I’m certain you can see yourself in one of these cycles.

I wish I was wrong abut what’s about to happen at HBO, because I’m a subscriber.

But the first part of this cycle has already begin and the next feels inevitable.


BTW…I will be in Lausanne, Switzerland at the end of this month meeting with clients at Radio Days Europe. If you’re going to attend, and we’ve never met, let’s grab a drink while we’re both there. Email me, and I’ll block off some time.