There’s a lot going on at Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) right now.
The company’s newly appointed top executives are churning out major films and TV shows — regardless of their cost (Batgirl) or acclaim (Gottita Chronicles) — while Threat of mass layoffs (opens in new tab) Frustrated by the people who work in its streaming department.
The restructuring comes as WBD seeks to slash around $3 billion from its operating costs, and the savings are presumed to be renewed when its grand ambitions — a new super-streamer of everything and everything for everyone — come to fruition. Invest in content creation 2023.
According to WBD honcho JB Perrette, the platform will see the group combine its existing HBO Max and Discovery Plus properties into a single, all-encompassing streaming service that offers “something for everyone in the family”.
Currently, WBD’s entertainment offerings include networks such as HBO, CNN, DC Comics, Discovery Channel, Food Network, HGTV, Magnolia Network, OWN, TBS, and TNT — all of which will be merged into this as-yet-unnamed streamer, starting in 2023.
Sounds good, right? Well, not really. In addition to the aforementioned layoffs, the launch of the aforementioned streaming service will come at the expense of HBO Max, which has blossomed into a bastion of prestige programming in the two years since its launch.
Yes, HBO’s major successes — think Euphoria and Succession — will inevitably transfer to this mysterious new platform, but WBD has made it clear that it wants to cut scripted content production, and suffice it to say that consumers aren’t happy.
The debacle of HBO Max before our eyes is outrageous. Not because we should love HBO unconditionally, but because the service easily has the best library of classic shows and movies, and bold originals that never feel like they’re algorithmically produced.August 3, 2022
If HBO Max is really going to incorporate Discovery Plus and drop all scripted content, it might be the dumbest decision any company has ever made in the streaming ageAugust 3, 2022
As so eloquently mentioned in the tweet above, WBD’s decision to scale back its original programming spells trouble for HBO’s reputation, which is widely regarded as the most important due to critical, commercial and cultural hits like Game of Thrones. of premium TV producers, Chernobyl, The Sopranos, The Brothers and The Wire.
Upcoming IP-based titles, including House of the Dragon and The Last of Us TV shows, will try to continue this tradition, but where do the new ideas come from? WBD seems foolishly gambled that subscribers turn to unscripted content from Discovery Channel, CNN and TBS when they don’t have premium TV to watch.
Regardless, the company appears to have a new overall plan for streaming. “At the end of the day, putting everything together is the only way we think this is going to be a viable business,” Perrett told analysts. Fair enough, but if HBO is to remain TV’s premier network, WBD must reassess its commitment (or lack thereof) to groundbreaking original programming.
If not, the conglomerate could suffer the same recent criticisms of Netflix, which crowded together massively-produced films, series and reality shows, lost subscribers and was in the midst of a reputational spiral.
The HBO name is sacred in the world of small-screen entertainment—and Warner Bros. Discovery would be wise to keep that in mind.