In the summer of 2023 Warner Bros. Discovery plans to launch a new platform that will combine HBO Max and Discovery + , the name has not yet been revealed.
JB Perrette , CEO and president of WBD for global streaming and interactivity, announced this last night during WBD ‘s second quarter earnings call .
He said the two services are “unique” and “complementary”, but admitted that they are very different in terms of how subscribers use the content.
Perrette pointed out that HBO Max is more geared towards watching shows like Succession and the upcoming House of the Dragon series , while Discovery + is more geared towards “comfortable viewing,” which fosters subscriber retention. She added:
“These are two fundamental and powerful components of a strong and sustainable subscription business. Together with our collection of franchises and characters from globally recognized brands, it is an unprecedented combination in an already crowded market. ”
In the second quarter, WBD said HBO Max, HBO and Discovery + subscribers combined totaled 92.1 million, an increase of 1.7 million from 90.4 million in the previous quarter. Compared to a year earlier, subscribers increased by 22%, or 75.8 million on a pro forma basis.
Zaslav admitted that the streaming service will only break even when it adds another 40 million subscribers, likely in 2024 or 2025.
Executives revealed that the service will utilize Discovery + ‘s technology framework , aiming to incorporate many of HBO Max ‘s beloved features .
The top executives of Warner Bros. Discovery have confirmed to TheWrap that there will be other layoffs in the future, especially in the unscripted space, from a technological, marketing and back office point of view. And the reaction from the HBO offices in New York and Los Angeles was specific.
“They’re all going crazy,” said a major Hollywood agent, and that: “All I know is that they’re about to merge HBO Max with HBO, and there will be layoffs.”
The hope is to reduce the deficits of each individual service, such as the performance and problems of Max’s customers and the limited consumer features of Discovery + .
A company insider said:
“Everyone at Warner Bros. Discovery is nervous at the moment, and [are] starting to consider alternative job options in case they get fired. It seems that with the acquisition of HBO Max they no longer deal with scripted shows, so in general less show scripted “
According to two sources on The Wrap, the cut in development staff at HBO Max will amount to 70%.
“HBO Max has a development team, which involves a lot of overhead. And why do you need a development team for both HBO and HBO Max? It is redundant. The Casey Bloys team just needs to develop all the television series ”.
However, a company spokesperson denied the 70% layoff figure, stating that there will be some in unscripted development, but especially in the technical sector, in marketing and in the back office.
Zaslav added that most of HBO & HBO Max ‘s Chief Content Officer Casey Bloys top team have been “armored”, even though they refused to name the executives.
He also revealed that all of the company’s creatives now meet once a week on the studio lot.
“It is an initiative that we have started with me on the ground, in person, in addition to the many general staff meetings. But the creative meetings all together were really effective and a way to talk not only about storytelling, but also about how to share content and how to help each other with great talents ”.
HBO and HBO Max
Speaking about Bloys and his team, Zaslav revealed that “we will spend a lot more” in 2022 and 2023 than in 2020 and 2021. He explained:
“Quality is what matters. Quality is what Casey and his team are delivering. It’s the best team in the business. We’re doubling down on the HBO team. They are all bound by a contract and we will spend a lot more this year and next year than we spent last year and the previous year ”.
Zaslav then dismissed rumors that HBO Max’s programming would be significantly curtailed. He said:
“There’s been a bit of a buzz about HBO Max today, we’re going to start doing less series and our strategy is to embrace and support and then drive the incredible success that HBO Max is having. The credit goes to the culture and taste of Casey [Bloys] and the team, who not only read the scripts, but struggle with all the creatives to make the content and storytelling as strong as possible. It is a truly unique moment. We think it is an extraordinary resource, an extraordinary advantage “.
According to Deadline sources, spending on HBO Max content is expected to increase, although the impact of the increase will likely be mitigated by inflation.
Cut out content for kids
These days HBO Max has canceled Gordita Chronicles and Ellen DeGeneres’ preschool series Little Ellen, they are not isolated cancellations but part of a larger project.
The streamer said through a spokesperson that: “Live-action programming for children and families will not be part of our programming for the foreseeable future.”
Warner Bros. Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels confirmed that children’s and animation content, for both streaming and linear networks, will be cut without adequate investment in their favor.
Wiedenfels added that these savings will also include cuts to streaming movies, the closure of CNN +, the exit from local content in international markets, and the restructuring of the scripted content portfolio on the linear network.
He added that the company is also preparing to significantly reduce sales of external content, as it will prioritize HBO Max. In particular, new licensing agreements will be blocked.
Perrette explained that as development work and testing are completed, she will also explore ways to accelerate the launch.