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Time Warner’s CEO says its $85 billion sale to AT&T is all about battling Google and Facebook

Data. And then more data.

Jeff Bewkes, Code 2017 Asa Mathat
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Data, data, data.

Who’s got it? Tech giants like Google and Facebook, who provide a service directly to their users, and then use that data for ad targeting. It’s why they are dominating online advertising today.

Who doesn’t? A traditional media giant like Time Warner, which owns brands like HBO and CNN, but which doesn’t have a direct connection with viewers because it sells its channels through a cable provider.

That, in essence, is why Time Warner has agreed to sell itself to AT&T — a company that has a direct link with consumers — Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said in an interview with Recode’s Peter Kafka at the Code Conference on Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s hard to get on equal footing with them,” Bewkes said of the Googles, YouTubes, Facebooks and Amazons of the world.

But an AT&T deal would be a start, he said.

“We have a very strong and pretty at-scale content creation business,” Bewkes said. Add that to the “direct retail connection” of AT&T and the viewing data that comes with it, and you have at least the foundation of some type of competition.

“We need to be able to compete with them,” he said.

Watch the full interview at Recode’s Code Conference below.

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