Warner Bros. Discovery will launch a combo streamer next year

Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) has set a summer 2023 launch for its combo streamer DTC, shared plans to “double down” on HBO and revealed a 10-year plan for superhero brand DC, during its first appeal to the results after the merger.

The company posted revenue of $9.8 billion in its second-quarter financial results yesterday as shares fell as much as 12% in after-hours trading, but that’s the subsequent call from shareholders who gave a glimpse of what the future holds for the media giant. .

While the merged streamer has yet to be given a name, JB Perrette, CEO of WBD and President of Global Streaming and Gaming, has confirmed that the service, which will combine HBO Max and Discovery+ content, will launch in the United States. United next summer. A Latin America rollout will take place later in 2023, followed by European markets that already have HBO Max in early 2024, then additional launches in key Asia-Pacific territories and other new European markets later in 2024.

Perrette added that this schedule could be accelerated “if and where it makes sense” as WBD gets “more development and testing work under our belts.”

WBD is aiming for a target of 130 million DTC subscribers worldwide by 2025, which would require them to add about 40 million new subscribers to its current total of 92.1 million on HBO’s current offering, HBO Max and Discovery+.

The current 2025 plan does not include the main UK, German and Italian markets, due to existing exit agreements with European compensation giant Skywhich Perrette said meant there was “significant opportunity for expansion” in the future.

J.B. Perrette

FAST plans and naming conversations

WBD is currently focused on launching ad-light and ad-free versions of combo SVOD, but was also looking at the FAST offering, with Perrette revealing that they were exploring “options on how best to reach consumers in the space of ad-supported free streaming.”

The content offering between FAST and SVOD services would be different, with Perette explaining, “There’s a lot of content that wouldn’t necessarily make sense in a premium product that might make sense for FAST” and adding that the former would serve as an entry point to the latter.

Ahead of the combined streamer’s launch, WBD has already started making content from both services available on either platform, with a CNN hub set to arrive on Discovery+ on August 19, while HBO Max will begin. to feature content from the Magnolia Network later this year.

Pricing details weren’t disclosed, though Perrette and WBD Chairman and CEO David Zaslav said conversations were ongoing about whether the HBO branding would be part of the combined streamer’s name.

Perrette added that whether it ends up being or not, HBO will continue to be a major brand for the company: “HBO will always be the beacon and the ultimate brand that represents the highest quality television. So that remains unchanged in any scenario in our mind.

bat girl

Praise of the “unicorn” Bloys

Zaslav further shared his intention to “spend a lot more this year and next year” on HBO and HBO Max than he has in the past two years, and while he didn’t provide any numbers, the WBD boss said of HBO & HBO Max CCO Casey Bloys and his team that, “Quality is what matters, quality is what Casey and this team deliver. It’s the best team in the business. We’re dubbing this HBO team.

Calling Bloys a “unicorn,” Zaslav revealed that “the majority of Casey’s team members have been locked up. Casey is here for the next five years, and hopefully longer.

Responding to reports that HBO Max’s programming slate needs to be trimmed, Zaslav said that on the contrary, “There was a buzz today about HBO Max, [that] we’re going to start doing fewer sets. And our strategy is to embrace, support and drive the incredible success of HBO Max.

“It really is [to] the culture and taste of Casey and the team and the fact that they not only read the scripts, but fight with all of their creatives to make the content and storytelling as strong as possible. It’s a very unique moment. We think that’s an amazing asset. It is an extraordinary advantage. I’ve said it before, it’s not how much. It is so good.

However, one area that will see cuts is children’s and animated content, across the company, which includes its Cartoon Network and Boomerang brands, and on HBO Max. Speaking on the earnings call, Chief Financial Officer Gunnar Wiedenfels said the commissions inherited from WarnerMedia had seen “substantial investment in children and animation content for linear and D2C platforms without a record adequate investment against them”.

Wiedenfals also pointed to “substantial investments in direct-to-HBO Max movies, for which, again, we did not find sufficient support.” These include the recently canceled bat girl and Scoob! Holiday destination projects which, in his view, do not correspond to the new strategic approach of WBD.

Zaslav further defended the decision to cancel the nearly completed DC Comics superhero film. bat girl, which was intended for HBO Max, stating, “We’re not going to release a movie unless we believe it.”

He further shared that WBD has a “DC-only 10-year plan” similar to the approach Disney took with Kevin Feige-led Marvel Studios.

Zaslav said, “We believe we could build a much stronger, long-term, sustainable growth business out of DC. And within that, we’re going to focus on quality. We’re not going to release a movie until it’s ready. He further explained that he sees no “economic value” in “expensive movies going straight to streaming,” adding, “Our focus will be on cinema. And when we bring the theatrically movies to HBO Max, we find they’re much more valuable.

Mary I. Bruner