Warner Bros. Discovery Sets a New Direction…Kind Of
The Most Important Story for the Week of 8-Aug-2022
Mid-way through last week, big news started dropping about Warner Bros. Discovery.
First, Warner Bros. killed The Batgirl a $75-$100 million dollar picture to, allegedly, get a tax write-off worth more than the costs of finishing the special effects. Then Reddit sleuths realized that HBO Max had already removed a few “Max Original” films from their service. (Though as I wrote Friday, they weren’t particularly popular anyways…)
Then the rumors really kicked into high gear. First, multiple folks told me to get ready for headcount annihilation. By the end of the week, whole departments would go up in smoke. Indeed, as the week went on, it looked like HBO Max could be folded into Discovery+ as David Zaslav slashed and burned everything in his path. Since Warner Bros. Discovery had planned a two-hour investor call after they announced earnings on Thursday, all bets were off.
Then the investor call came out and…okay. Not much of that happened.
David Zaslav confirmed rumors that he’s pulling back on HBO Max Original films and some family and animation projects, but the big “announcement”, if you can call it that, was that HBO Max and Discovery+ will merge by summer of 2023, something we knew was happening anyways.
So expectations for fireworks were NOT met.
But that doesn’t mean we didn’t learn anything. This is the first opportunity to hear CEO David Zaslav’s thoughts, post-merger, on entertainment and streaming strategy for the 2020s. (Though we’ll probably learn even more at WBD’s Investor Day later this fall.)
Still, we learned enough and got enough strategy thoughts that we can judge Zaslav’s first big announcement. (And it’s big enough news that I’m doing an emergency “Most Important Story of the Week” column to talk about it.) So let’s dive in.