The coronavirus pandemic will alter consumer behavior across the entire business landscape, AT&T President and COO John Stankey said Wednesday.
“Not just AT&T, every company is going to see consumer behavior changes coming out of this event,” Stankey told CNBC’s Julia Boorstin. “I don’t expect we’re going to return to ‘normal.’”
“We’re going to return to a different economic environment. We’re going to return to different business models,” Stankey added on “Power Lunch.”
Stankey’s comments came shortly after AT&T announced that Hulu co-founder Jason Kilar would take over as CEO of WarnerMedia on May 1. Kilar will report to Stankey, who had been serving as WarnerMedia CEO.
Stankey said he believes AT&T, with its diverse business units, is well situated to navigate a post-pandemic world.
“Certainly, connectivity has gotten no less important going through this dynamic,” he said. “If anything, the networked world, and the versatility of it, has demonstrated just how strong and powerful an engine it can be to maintaining some degree of normalcy.”
The entertainment side of AT&T’s business also continues to show its relevancy as tens of millions of Americans stay at home, Stankey argued.
“We’re clearly seeing that people are resonating with an opportunity to spend their time looking for great stories and emotional attention and distraction during some very difficult circumstances,” he said.
And with AT&T’s streaming service, HBO Max, set to launch next month, “I can think of no better place for us to be than to have an opportunity to bring some new library and fresh content out to the end user,” Stankey said.
But AT&T will have to adjust some of its business models to the new, post-COVID-19 landscape like so many other businesses will, Stankey said.
“Is there going to be as much retail space back in service and attached to retail spaces, theater screens? Chances are probably not,” he said.
“And does that mean that we’re going to be looking to tell stories and maybe deliver them in different ways to compliment what we already do so well on the big screen and cinema? I would expect that to be the case, especially if that’s what the consumer expresses is their preference and desire,” Stankey said.