There’s a lot of discomfort in the air surrounding HBO Max this week, especially after it was announced in Thursday’s earnings call that HBO Max will merge with Discovery+ to become a streaming platform.
The news came months after HBO’s parent company WarnerMedia merged with Discovery, and subsequently dropped hints that HBO Max might be cutting back on its original content.
Tuesday, Warner Bros. announced that it had canceled the release of the previously shot original film “Batgirl,” which cost around $90 million. Shortly after, it was revealed that at least six Warner Bros. had been pulled from the streaming service, including “Moonshot”, “Superintelligence” and “An American Pickle”.
Warner Bros. Discovery announced on Thursday that a merged version of the two streamers would launch next year, with the new name to come. This change follows General Manager David Zaslav’s new philosophy that, with more content available than ever, quality trumps quantity.
“Content that really resonates with people is much more important than just having lots of content,” Zaslav said during Thursday’s call with analysts. “In other words, in an era where nearly every piece of content ever created is available to consumers through a number of free and paid services, curation, quality and brand have never been more important. “
Ahead of the call, actor/writer/producer Issa Rae expressed concern about the platform that airs his latest show, “Rap S—,” as well as previous projects “Insecure” and “Sweet Life: Los Angeles.” .
“Me finding out who to seduce and plot at Discovery,” she tweeted Wednesday alongside a GIF of someone sneaking around in a sparkly, comfy dress and clutching a purse. Robin Thede, creator of “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” which also streams on HBO Max, quickly jumped into the responses to add “SAME.”
Some commentators weighed in ahead of Thursday’s news, saying they didn’t think the merger would go through.
“Whether [Warner Bros. Discovery] killing off HBO Max to make it part of Discovery Plus would be one of the dumbest decisions on the planet,” one user said. tweeted. “That’s why I don’t think it will happen. They can’t be that stupid.
“I’m here stressing about HBO Max like it’s a family member in need of prayer,” said ‘How We Fight for Our Lives’ author Saeed Jones. tweeted Thursday before the results call.
The creators also expressed skepticism about the planned merger.
“I don’t know if the fixes that were kindly provided by the HBO Max support team will carry over to Discovery+, so you might have about a year to lean in and make an appointment to watch OK. KO in order of correctly scripted male episodes on HBO Max! tweeted Ian James-Quartey, creator of the animated series “OK KO!” Let’s be heroes.
Sources previously told The Times that canceling projects like “Batgirl” could potentially allow a tax deduction for Warner Bros. Discovery. However, a person close to the company said the removal of “Batgirl” was not a cost-saving measure.
HBO and HBO Max reported a combined total of 76.8 million subscribers at the end of Q1 2022, making them one of Netflix and Disney+’s most formidable competitors. HBO Max is the streaming home of a wide range of DC content, including the “Dark Knight” trilogy, “Peacemaker” and the “Harley Quinn” animated series.
“The collapse of HBO Max before our eyes is infuriating”, tweeted entertainment writer Eric Francisco before the decision was. “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 created by algorithms. “
Times writer Ryan Faughnder contributed to this report.
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