Turner chief Martin: Launch of direct-to-consumer CNN and TNT ‘imperative,’ but it won’t happen soon

Turner Networks CEO John Martin continues to describe the direct-to-consumer launches of his conglomerate’s top networks, CNN and TNT, as being imminent, while simultaneously offering no timeline as to when that might happen.

"I believe it’s imperative that we put the company on a course, to be in a position, to offer an end-to-end solution, direct to consumer,” Martin said to Re/code in a wide-ranging Q&A.

However with Turner currently receiving about $5.5 billion a year from MVPDs, Martin added that competing with cable, satellite and telco directly “is not a viable roadmap right now. It’s more of an ambition.”

Amid this contradictory message, Martin described a media conglomerate ramping up, technology-wise, to serve consumers with its own streaming platforms.

“We’re reinventing our company from the inside out,” he said. “And we’re remodeling it when the plane is up in the air. We have to go from being a wholesale, linear cable TV company to being a consumer-focused, consumer-centric company."

"We are building the capabilities to move to becoming capable of offering VOD — not only domestically, but globally — and then building out the things that you need to be able to do to be an end-to-end provider, including customer relationships, billing and so on,” he added. 

Specifically, Martin called out the company's purchase of streaming shop iStreamPlanet in August 2015

“It is not an end-to-end solution today, with respect to video on demand,” he said. “But it is arguably the leading provider of livestream IP-delivery video on the planet. It just did the Olympics, and delivered 4,500 hours of video, and I didn’t see one press report that said it crashed, or didn’t deliver what it was supposed to deliver.”

The integration of iStreamPlanet could spell the end of HBO’s relationship with BAM Tech — the Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) unit has provided the backbone to Turner’s Time Warner Inc. sibling, HBO Now.

“HBO Now is using MLBAM. Disney buys MLBAM. Is it the best idea for HBO to think that their best long-term technology solution is MLBAM?” Martin asked. 

Finally, Martin also voiced strong support for virtual pay-TV services. “We’re going to do everything we can to be great partners with [MVPDs launching these services],” he said. “If they want to go direct to consumer or move out of their geographic region, we’d be happy to work with them as partners to help them do that.”

For more:
- read this Re/code story

Related articles:
Turner launching 'at least a couple' direct-to-consumer streaming platforms
Turner set to go SVOD, group president says
Turner acquires streaming tech company iStreamPlanet for possible direct-to-consumer future

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