Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav continued to defend the cancellation of multiple HBO Max shows and bigger-budget movies, along with eliminating dozens of titles from the streaming service, as a necessary business decision.
When Discovery and WarnerMedia merged earlier this year, several unanticipated issues came up as some assets were worse than expected Zaslav said during a keynote discussion at the RBC Media conference on Tuesday, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
HBO went from making over $2 million in 2019 to losing around $3 billion in 2021 after spending nearly $7 million on content, he said.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything like that,” said Zaslav, pointing to “all those direct-to-streaming movies just thrown right on top” of the service.
Therefore, WBD decided to take a look at what people were watching on HBO Max and determine where to invest future funds.
“We are right [now] sizing HBO Max — more content that people love, more original content,” said Zaslav.
This means that less-watched content will be removed and more content that the company thinks users will like will be added.
“Our whole library went on HBO Max, and we weren’t selling any of it, but it was all on there,” Zaslav said. “Now, all that could have worked, but we looked at it and we said: Most of this is not being watched. Or, we don’t think anybody is subscribing because of this. We can sell it non-exclusively to somebody else. Look at this huge library that we have.”
HBO Max made headlines over the summer as WBD caught the industry off guard when it announced the cancellation of the nearly completed $90 million Batgirl feature film. This was followed by the news the streamer had also axed Scoob!: Holiday Haunt, a follow-up to the 2020 film Scoob.
The streamer then continued to pull content left and right, including at least six HBO Max Original films, 20 original series and nearly 200 episodes of Sesame Street and various specials.
More cuts are coming as Warner Bros. Discovery plans to merge its two streaming services–HBO Max and Discovery+–by the spring of next year.
“As we work toward bringing our content catalogs together under one platform, we will be making changes to the content offering available on both HBO Max and Discovery+,” HBO Max said in a statement at the time. “That will include the removal of some content from both platforms.