Warner Bros. Discovery’s HBO Max is removing 36 movies and TV series from its platform. There are three main reasons why it happens.
The movies and series — including 20 original HBO Max shows such as teen drama “Generation” and “Sesame Street” spin-off “The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo” — will be removed by the end of Friday. The decision comes ahead of Warner Bros. plans. Discovery to combine Discovery+ with HBO Max in a new service that will launch in the US in mid-2023.
“As we work to bring our content catalogs under one platform, we will be making changes to the content offerings available on both HBO Max and Discovery+. That includes removing certain content from both platforms,” an HBO Max spokesperson said in a statement. a press release. pronunciation.
It may seem strange for HBO Max to remove series made just for the platform – streaming services are full of little-watched shows and movies. But for Warner Bros. Discovery, there are three main drivers behind the cuts: cutting costs, moving away from content aimed at children and families, and cleaning up the service.
While HBO already paid Max for the production of these shows, it’s still on the hook for scraps, including so-called back-end payments to cast, crew, and writers, based on long-term ratings.
By removing these movies and shows, especially those that HBO Max has made instead of being licensed, executives can immediately cut costs. Warner Bros. Discovery has pledged at least $3 billion in synergies as a result of the WarnerMedia and Discovery merger announced in May.
The total removal of content will save “tens of millions of dollars,” according to two people familiar with the case, who asked not to be named because the finances are private.
The reasoning isn’t the same as why the superhero movie “Batgirl” was scrapped earlier this month. That decision took advantage of a merger tax benefit that changed its strategy, allowing incomplete projects to be written off. The HBO Max shows have already launched and been in service, so they don’t count for that benefit.
Avoid children and family
Most of what HBO Max draws is reality TV or content for kids and families. (A full list of removed content is at the end of this story).
HBO Max will get its unscripted content from Discovery, which will add nearly its entire catalog of reality TV, including from HGTV, Food Network, and Animal Plant, to the combined service next year. HBO Max laid off 14% of its staff earlier this week, including many from its unscripted division.
The shift in content for kids and families is new. HBO Max executives decided that viewers just don’t go to the service to watch kids’ shows. Even “Sesame Street,” which HBO Max acquired in a five-year deal in 2019, isn’t drawing strong numbers, according to those familiar with the matter. That led to the removal of “The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo,” the people said.
HBO specializes in adult-themed content that leans toward a male audience. Discovery specializes in adult reality content that is viewed by more women. While the combined services will target both adult and gender demographics, they are not aimed at children. Rather than add more content to fill that niche, Warner Bros. Discovery decided to step out of the category with its future investment budget, the folks said.
Streaming executives across the industry often talk about Netflix having a “discovery problem.” Netflix has so much content, they say, that it’s hard to search for the best stuff. While Netflix tries to mitigate this with algorithms and Top 10 lists, the service has hundreds of shows that get lost in the shuffle because there is so much content that speeds up the search process.
Anything drawn from “HBO Max” was rarely watched, according to those familiar with the case.
With the upcoming addition of Discovery+ content, Warner Bros. Discovery executives that HBO Max can get stuck with little-watched movies and shows. That could lead viewers to associate the service with having a lot of things they don’t want to see — the “Netflix problem,” said an HBO Max executive, who asked not to be named because the decision was private.
Traditional pay TV has also struggled with the problem. Cable TV has skyrocketed in price, averaging about $100 per month, as more and more poorly viewed cable networks have been added over the years. As a result, customers are massively rejecting cable TV.
This risk of too much content is one of the reasons Disney has kept Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu separate in the past. Disney executives have long felt that consumers will pay a lower price for a more customized experience.
David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, may want to raise the price for a combined HBO Max-Discovery+ offering, especially since competitors Disney and Netflix have recently increased prices. Eliminating little-watched content and adding a slew of new Discovery+ content could justify the increase.
HBO Max has announced that the following series will be removed this week:
12 dates of Christmas
About last night
Aquaman: King of Atlantis
Ellen’s next great designer
Elliott of the Earth
Esme & Roy
Mao Mao, Heroes of Pure Heart
Messy goes to Okido
Mia’s Magical Playground
My dinner with Herve
My mother, your father
Ok KO! – Let’s be heroes
The Ollie & Moon Show
Pac-Man and the Spooky Adventures
Ravi Patel’s pursuit of happiness
Select Sesame Street Specials
Make it big, make it small
Summer Camp Island
The Not Too Late Show with Elmo
The Runaway Rabbit – Special
Tig n’ Seek
Victor and Valentino
Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs
WATCH: David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, talks to CNBC about its strategy