Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) is to sell content removed from HBO Max to third-party FAST services, while the company prepares its own push into the space.
The media giant’s content cull continued this week with recently cancelled scripted titles including Raised By Wolves, Head Of The Class and The Time Traveler’s Wife removed from the streamer. Reality titles Legendary and FBoy Island have also been dropped, while Finding Magic Mike is now confirmed as canned and also leaving the service.
WBD has revealed that it is putting together a package of shows, including those above, to license to third-party FAST channels. Warner Bros TV and HBO Entertainment-produced series such as Westworld and The Nevers, which were announced as leaving HBO Max earlier this week, will also be included.
The rights to other recently cancelled titles such as Sony Pictures Television’s Gordita Chronicles, Paramount Television Studios’ Made For Love, ViacomCBS’ The Garcias and Lionsgate Televison’s Love Life and Minx are to revert to the producers and studios, with WBD revealing that it is “speaking with the studio partners about opportunities to further expand the reach of the shows, including but not limited to licensing the series to third party FAST platforms.”
The company, meanwhile, said that it will reveal details about its own “long-term WBD FAST offering” in 2023.
WBD has been rapidly pulling content from HBO Max in recent weeks as it attempts to hit its $3.5bn savings target.
Other cost-cutting measures have seen the company lay off 14% of HBO and HBO Max staff, shelve its $90m-budget Batgirl movie, halt development of local original productions for HBO Max in the Nordics and make plans to close the HBO Max EMEA originals team.
President and CEO David Zaslav defended the sweeping changes on an earnings call last month, telling stakeholders: “It’s challenging, but it’s taken real courage to restructure this company. It hasn’t been restructured and reimagined for the future in a decade and a half.”
Regarding the cut content, Zaslav said: “We didn’t take one show off a platform that was going to help us in any way. It’s going to help us to get it off the platform so that we [can] replace those shows with content that has a chance to be more successful.”
The company also significantly increased its estimates on how much its otal pre-tax restructuring charges are going to cost this week, with a Securities and Exchange Commission filing revealing that WBD expects them to now be in the range of $4.1-$5.3bn.
In October, the company estimated this figure would be between $3.2-$4.3bn. Almost all of the revised upward estimate is down to content write-offs. The previous estimate included “content impairment and development write-offs of approximately $2.0-$2.5 billion”. The company now expects that figure to be between $2.8-$3.5bn.