Warner Bros. Polling to See if its AT&T Connection and The Lincoln Project Will Hurt Its Brands
The Warner Bros. A-List Community is an interesting, and not every known, tool of Warner Bros. Through it, the company polls its members to get their opinions on everything from box art to their habits consuming media. Questions often are more along the line to see if the community is familiar with a brand, movie, or tv show. But, based on the latest poll, the media company is a bit worried about how its connection to AT&T might impact it.
Recent court documents recently revealed that AT&T was pretty vital in the creation of One America News, OAN. The company provides OAN tens of millions of dollars in revenue. AT&T was so vital that OAN founder and chief executive Robert Herring Sr. testified that the inspiration to launch OAN in 2013 came from AT&T executives.
OAN is a rightwing news network that AT&T wanted to to compete with FOX News and since has helped, and continues, to spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and the COVID-19 pandemic. It became a favorite of former President Trump who’d wave his support when attacking Fox who he felts wasn’t supporting him enough.
90% of OAN’s revenue came from a contract with AT&T-owned television platforms like DirectTV. Without it, Herring has testified that the network would be worth zero.
AT&T has pushed back a bit about this releasing a statement after initially declining to comment about OAN’s testimoney. The statement included:
AT&T has never had a financial interest in OAN’s success and does not ‘fund’ OAN,”. When AT&T acquired DIRECTV, we refused to carry OAN on that platform, and OAN sued DIRECTV as a result. Four years ago, DIRECTV reached a commercial carriage agreement with OAN, as it has with hundreds of other channels and as OAN has done with the other TV providers that it carries on its programming.
The decision of whether to renew the carriage agreement upon its expiration will be up to DIRECTV, which is now a separate company outside of AT&T.
According to court documents, AT&T and OAN had a relationship to the point that AT&T offered to acquire a 5% equity stake in OAN and AWE but a different deal was agreed upon. OAN also promised to cast a “positive light” on AT&T during newscasts.
So, how does Warner Bros. fit in?
AT&T is the parent company of Time Warner which then became WarnerMedia. That includes Warner Bros. Pictures, HBO, Adult Swim, Boomerang, Cartoon Network, CNN, TBS, TNT, TruTV, DC Comics, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, and a 50% stake in The CW. This year, AT&T announced that WarnerMedia would be spun off and merge with Discovery, Inc. for $43 billion.
How does AT&T’s relationship with OAN impact all of those brands?
That’s what the Warner Bros. poll wants to figure out. The poll, run through its community, starts easy enough asking the familiarity with certain brands. Then it shifts to how often individuals watch or interact with them.
Then, the whole things gets very political.
After a rather normal setup, the poll then asks the person’s political affiliation and how they see themselves on the political affiliation.
Why? Because Warner Bros. wants to see how The Lincoln Project is impacting its brands and who they’re influencing.
The Lincoln Project launched in late 2019 formed by former and current Republicans who were against the far-right lurch of the party and its takeover by Donald Trump and his supporters. The organization has supported “moderate” Republicans who have rejected Trumpism and Democrats, taking a stand against the move to the far-right.
The Lincoln Project has launched the “Hang Up on AT&T” initiative taking on the telecom’s support of OAN and the sedition and white nationalism that OAN has promoted. They’ve also gone after AT&T for supporting elected officials who have restricted voting rights.
Warner Bros., through their community, are asking if that is impacting how members interact with Warner Bros. brands. While The Lincoln Project has had issues of its own, the organization has been effective getting Toyota to stop donations to Republicans who have contested the 2020 Presidential election.
That’s a pretty interesting and rather out in the open fact finding mission by Warner Bros. which are often tasks taken on by polling companies and kept on the hush hush.
It’s clear The Lincoln Project and their campaign is on Warner Bros.’ mind and their weighing their options based on the impact of The Lincoln Project’s latest campaign.