A lot is happening at Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) now.
The company’s newly appointed leaders are shooting major movies and TV shows in droves – regardless of their cost (Batgirl) or critical reception (Gordita Chronicles) – while the threat of mass layoffs (opens in new tab) hangs grimly over those who work for its streaming divisions.
The restructuring comes as WBD tries to cut about $3 billion from its operating costs, savings it reportedly plans to give back to content creation when its big ambition — a new everything-for-everyone super streamer — happens in 2023.
The platform in question will see the conglomerate merge its existing HBO Max and Discovery Plus properties into a single, all-encompassing streaming service that provides “something for everyone in the household,” according to WBD head JB Perrette.
WBD’s entertainment offering currently includes, among other networks, HBO, CNN, DC Comics, Discovery Channel, Food Network, HGTV, Magnolia Network, OWN, TBS and TNT – all of which will be included in this as-yet-unnamed streamer starting in 2023.
Sounds good, right? Well, not really. In addition to the aforementioned staff cuts, the launch of said streaming service will come at the expense of HBO Max, which has flourished into a bastion of prestige programming in the two years since its launch.
Yes, HBO’s mainstay hits – think Euphoria and Succession – will inevitably be dragged onto this mysterious new platform, but WBD has expressed an explicit desire to scale back scripted content production and suffice to say, consumers aren’t happy.
The fallout of HBO Max before our eyes is infuriating. Not because we should love HBO unconditionally, but because the service easily has the best library of classic AND bold original shows and movies that never seem made by algorithms.August 3, 2022
if HBO Max really is joining Discovery Plus and ditching all scripted content, this could be the dumbest decision any corporation has made in the streaming ageAugust 3, 2022
As mentioned so eloquently in the tweets above, WBD’s decision to cut back on original programming spells trouble for HBO’s reputation, which is widely recognized as the leading producer of premium television thanks to critical, commercial and cultural hits like Game of Thrones. , Chernobyl, The Sopranos, Band of Brothers and The Wire.
Upcoming IP-based productions, including House of the Dragon and the TV show The Last of Us, will try to continue this tradition, but where will the new ideas come from? WBD seems to be foolishly betting on the notion that subscribers will turn to the unscripted content offered by Discovery Channel, CNN and TBS when they’re all out of premium TV to watch.
Either way, the company seems set on its new master plan for streaming. “At the end of the day, putting all the content together was the only way we saw to make this business viable,” Perrette told analysts. Fair enough, but for HBO to remain TV’s golden network, WBD must re-evaluate its commitment (or lack thereof) to original programming that pushes the envelope.
Otherwise, the conglomerate risks suffering the same criticism recently leveled at Netflix, whose mix of movies, series and mass reality productions has left it leaking subscribers and in the midst of a reputation spiral.
The HBO name is enshrined in the world of small-screen entertainment – and Warner Bros. Discovery would be wise to remember that.