Exclusive: HBO & HBO Max chief Casey Bloys compares ‘streaming correction’ to Dot-com bubble


HBO & HBO Max chief Casey Bloys has told TBI that the industry remains “right in the middle” of its correction around streaming, likening the environment to that of the Dot-com bubble of the 2000’s.

Bloys, who will have been with HBO for two decades next year, has enjoyed a stellar run over recent years, shepherding shows including The Last Of Us, Succession, House Of The Dragon and The White Lotus.

But he said industry turmoil following the “Netflix correction” last year – which saw billions of dollars wiped off the share prices of media firms – is far from over.

Casey Bloys

“Everybody is trying to work it out. Obviously Netflix has been in streaming longer than anybody – they’re profitable and then it becomes about margins, but they are definitely ahead of the pack in terms of figuring it out,” he told TBI.

“But they are pure streaming – you also have more traditional businesses that have linear and cable, then Disney has its theme parks.”

Bloys said the question remained how to balance businesses, adding that the turmoil “reminded me of the Dot-com crash” in 2000.

“That [period] was so crazy, the valuations were so high and everybody was saying, ‘no, no, no. it’s a new paradigm.’ But having gone through that and having now gone through this, you can be sure eventually that the point, in any business, is how to make money.”

Weighing US & international balance

Bloys’ comments come as Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) prepares to launch its new combined HBO Max and Discovery+ streamer later this summer, which the HBO chief compared to replicating the cable bundle during his Series Mania keynote on Friday.

It remains to be seen how much programming will be available on the service in the US and internationally, but the HBO chief said that the previous strategy of placing all content onto one streamer did not add up.

The Last Of Us

“The correction in streaming was important because, to some extent, it brought everybody to their senses. And [WBD CEO] David [Zaslav] was ahead of this. He was the one saying, ‘OK, how do we make money?’.”

Bloys said a key aspect remains around how shows are windowed.

“For HBO, we sold and made a lot of money from selling DVD’s. We also syndicated shows like Sex And The City, The Sopranos, Entourage, Band Of Brothers. That has always been an aspect of the business.

“What changed with streaming was the idea that you would spend massive amounts of money on these shows – which aren’t cheap – and then leave them in a library for eternity for $15 a month. Investors started to realise it didn’t add up.

“That’s what you’re seeing now with the upheaval in the industry – how are we going to produce these shows, how are we going to put them out and make money. That is very much up in the air right now.”

Bloys, who was named HBO & HBO Max chairman and CEO last year, also outlined how his US domestic operation is looking to work more closely with the international team, following a swathe of senior exits and the curtailing of local content in regions such as the Nordics.

“What we are doing in the US, everybody [needs to] know about, and what we are doing internationally, everybody in the US [needs to] know about. The left hand [now] knows what the right hand is doing, so it will be more coordinated. We’ll be making better decisions about where to invest and how much to invest.”

Bloys said local original programming remained “as important as a show like Last Of Us”, adding that “having those conversations together has been very easy and leads to better decisions for us as a company.”

WBD’s operations outside of the US fall under International President Gerhard Zeiler and Bloys said the two are working closely as the Zaslav-led company looks to balance the books.

He added: “We’re trying to figure out the right amount of programming, for the right amount of people and for the right amount of money.

“It feels like we are right in the middle of it – the industry is a bit in the dark and we are all trying different approaches. We will figure it out, I don’t worry about that, but we are right in the middle of it.”

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