Opinion: HBO is superior than everything else.
At Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), a lot is occurring right now.
In spite of the expense (Batgirl) or critical acclaim (Gordita Chronicles), the company’s freshly appointed top brass are mass-canning big motion pictures and television programmes, and the prospect of mass layoffs hangs ominously over those who work for its streaming divisions.
When its great ambition—a new all-things-to-all-people super streamer—comes to fruition in 2023, WBD allegedly aims to reinvest the savings it makes by cutting about $3 billion from its operational expenditures.
According to WBD CEO JB Perrette, the platform in question would see the conglomerate combine its current HBO Max and Discovery Plus holdings into a single, all-inclusive streaming service that offers “something for everyone in the home.”
In addition to other networks, WBD now offers HBO, CNN, DC Comics, Discovery Channel, Food Network, HGTV, Magnolia Network, OWN, TBS, and TNT. All of these networks will be included into an as-yet-unnamed streamer starting in 2023.
Looks fantastic, doesn’t it? Actually not at all. The debut of such streaming service will come at the expense of HBO Max, which has grown into a stronghold of prestige content in the two years since its launch, in addition to those aforementioned personnel reductions.
Yes, HBO’s biggest hits like Euphoria and Succession will eventually be moved to this mysterious new platform, but WBD has made it clear that it wants to reduce the amount of scripted programming produced, and it should go without saying that viewers aren’t thrilled about it.
The reputation of HBO, which is widely regarded as the leading producer of premium television thanks to critically acclaimed, financially successful, and culturally influential shows like Game of Thrones, Chernobyl, The Sopranos, Band of Brothers, and The Wire, is in jeopardy as a result of WBD’s decision to scale back original programming, as alluded to so beautifully in the aforementioned tweets.
Future IP-based works like House of the Dragon and The Last of Us will make an effort to uphold that legacy, but where will the fresh concepts come from? When customers run out of premium TV to watch, WBD seems to be mistakenly betting that they would switch to the unscripted programming provided by the Discovery Channel, CNN, and TBS.
In any event, the business appears committed to its new streaming strategy. Perrette told analysts that the only way they could see to turn this into a profitable venture was to combine all the material. Fair enough, but WBD has to reconsider its commitment—or lack thereof—to original programming that pushes the boundaries of the medium if HBO is to remain television’s crown jewel.
If not, the company runs the risk of receiving the same critiques that Netflix has received for combining mass-produced movies, television shows, and reality shows, which has caused it to lose members and fall into a reputational spiral.
In the realm of small-screen entertainment, the HBO name is revered, and Warner Bros. Discovery would be well to keep that in mind.