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Unscripted Business Essentials

The conspiracy surrounding the mysterious planned merger of HBO Max, Warner Bros. Discovery’s flagship streaming service, and Discovery+ has turned dog days into this summer’s dog days for industry pundits, trade publications like us, and the entertainment business at large. We certainly made it more lively.

After WBD confirmed plans to consolidate services in April, how That culminated in the weeks leading up to Thursday’s (August 4) second-quarter earnings report and accompanying investor call. Given that unscripted is the focus of Discovery+, Microscope has been specifically trained in the streamer’s unscripted division, with rumors also predicting quick and nasty guts for HBO Max’s team. There was. For a while it was the hottest topic in the industry.

after that bat girl happened.

The decision to shelve the nearly completed film, which has already collected a $90 million bill, has successfully turned the industry’s eyes off the HBO Max/Discovery+ merger ball. moment. But even in the days leading up to yesterday’s news, the prognosis for HBO Max was grim, according to most of the sources cited (though not named).

As we see now, the truth is a little different. While there are still a lot of unknowns, elements of the strategy presented during the earnings call with WBD topper David Zaslav and his streaming chief JB Perrette will be the timeline for the launch of the integrated streamer and Other game plan aspects. While many things are still unanswered and more details are promised to investors at the end of the year, here are some of the key takeaways from yesterday’s event specifically relevant to the unscripted content business. .

HBO Max’s death was greatly exaggerated…

Judging by some press speculation leading up to the second quarter report, the plug this Almost pulled by HBO Max, a la CNN+. News broke yesterday regarding plans to move content to HBO Max via ‘Spotlight’. A page over the next few months” shows that no such drastic move is in the cards: Magnolia content will continue to appear on Discovery+. fixer upper While the franchise will debut on both platforms, bringing the Gaines train to HBO Max perhaps marks a more gradual move towards merging WBD’s streaming brands.

Still, the fact remains that what subscribers currently see as HBO Max and Discovery+ will be a different animal when the combined service comes along. Focusing on markets that have already launched, we laid out a timeline for the launch of the yet-to-be-named service. This leaves regions like the UK, Germany and Italy out of his sights until 2025. The US launch is slated for his summer of 2023, followed by Latin America, followed by the European region and Asia Pacific markets in 2024.

“From restructuring our technology platform to enabling the ingestion of the right content and metadata across the globe to seamlessly transitioning customers to launch, we have a lot of work to do over the next few months. there is,” said Perrette. “We have a lot of work to do and we are determined to get it right, but it will take some time.”

…but what will the new service look like and who will be on board?

Perrette (pictured above) also added that WBD expects “the peak of the DTC segment’s EBITDA loss to occur this year in 2022.”

This is where some of the most relevant ambiguity remains in the production community, especially in the HR area. WBD “When discussing content of unparalleled depth and breadth, [which] Perrette highlighted the “unique and complementary” elements of both streamers, clearly distinguishing between HBO Max’s scripted offerings and Discovery+’s focus on “real-life entertainment.” When it came to highlighting the “cutting-edge, unscripted programming” that WBD offered, it was Discovery+ content — 90 day fiancee When fixer upper — it screamed from the upper echelons.

Given this, the content-sharing strategy seen in Magnolia Network/HBO Max News, which was revealed Thursday, and the selected CNN original parallel shuttle shuttle to Discovery+, also announced yesterday, will be scripted by HBO Max. Will the document appear on Discovery+ in the next few months to acclimatize original and Discovery+ viewers to HBO Max’s eclectic non-fiction work? With the reported development uncertainties affecting streamers, when will the foot come off the brakes and who will drive the development and purchasing efforts?

“The majority of people on Casey [Bloys]team is trapped,” Zaslav said, referring to the “incredible success” HBO and HBO Max are currently achieving. “Casey will be here for the next five years, but he wants more than that.”

Alignment still matters

While much of the attention has been directed to WBD’s streaming and theatrical models, a significant departure of executives from WBD’s network portfolio has resulted in a similar retelling of what unscripted things will look like across WBD. There has also been a lot of movement on the linear side of the company, including questions that have arisen. cable roster. During the earnings call, Zaslav insisted that getting the right balance of content across the linear network remains a priority.

“I think it’s very difficult to predict, but this is a very important cash generator for us and we expect it to be a very good business for us for many years to come.” WBD Depending on the size and breadth of the library under its umbrella, content sharing strategies will also be considered for cable and premium pay TV.

“We have not yet started implementing the current library from which content can be retrieved. [like] You can take an old crime documentary off HBO and put it on your ID, or you can take a show that’s in your library and move it to each cable channel, or vice versa,” said Zaslav.