In a staff memo, Plepler didn’t offer specific reasons for his departure but said, “Hard as it is to think about leaving the company I love, and the people I love in it, it is the right time for me to do so.”
The news comes less than a year after AT&T acquired HBO’s corporate parent Time Warner.
Shortly after the deal closed, WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey held a town hall meeting where he said HBO would need to grow its subscriber base and the amount of time those subscribers spend watching HBO content (a recording of the meeting was obtained by The New York Times). In the memo, Plepler said he’s told Stankey — “who has been nothing but gracious since we spoke” — that he “would work closely with him to assure a seamless and organic transition.”
This also comes as WarnerMedia plans to launch a streaming service of its own. While Plepler was CEO, Netflix has reshaped the TV landscape (and supplanted HBO as the leader in Emmy nominations), but it was also under his leadership that HBO launched its own direct-to-consumer subscription service, HBO Now, setting the stage for seemingly every network and media company launching a streaming service of its own.
In fact, the one time I interviewed Plepler was in 2013, at a red carpet event for “Game of Thrones” (I’m still not sure what I was doing there). When asked to speculate about what the future would hold, he replied, “Maybe even a broadband-only HBO delivery system. Who knows? We’ll see where that goes down the road.”