Warner Bros. Discovery Claims Its Days of Axing Shows for Tax Purposes Are Done

By Jessica Lerner 

Does a new year mean that Warner Bros. Discovery is finally turning the page on its mass streaming cancellations and removals? WBD CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels seems to believe so.

At a Citibank media conference on Thursday, Wiedenfels promised that the days of axing shows and movies for tax write-offs are in the past, saying the company is “done with that chapter” and calling 2023 a year of “relaunching and building.”

Wiedenfels said that the cost-cutting measures, which started over the summer with the cancellation of the nearly completed $90 million Batgirl film and continued with the steady removal of titles from HBO Max’s library, took “a little bit of time to make sure that we do it properly.”


He added the WBD has come to “great solutions,” most likely referring to WBD’s decision to move some of its canceled programs to third-party FAST services, such as Westworld and The Nevers.

Wiedenfels also said that WBD needed to complete its cost-saving cancellations before moving forward.

“That was very important to all of us to really use 2022 to leave the purchase accounting behind us, leave those initial strategy changes behind us, get it all out there in terms of our restructuring estimates, and then be able to turn the page and move forward,” he said.

WBD got a “a lot of public noise about the content writeoffs that [it] took,” said Wiedenfels, explaining that it’s “a reflection of an industry that went overboard and went on a spending frenzy. There was a lot of thinking of, ‘let’s do more, more, more,’ not necessarily ‘let’s do the exact right things, let’s do what works.’”

CEO David Zaslav previously said the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger will result in cost savings of $3.5 billion. In the normal course of business there may be additional write-downs, but specific merger-related decisions have been made, according to Wiedenfels.

This should be an encouraging sign that fans will no longer have to bid adieu to fan-favorite TV shows and movies. Still, Wiedenfels’ promises would be a lot more convincing if 250-plus episodes of Looney Tunes and three seasons of The Flintstones hadn’t been removed from HBO Max just this week.

Additionally, the company has long predicted that more cuts and cancellations are looming as Warner Bros. Discovery plans to merge HBO Max and Discovery+ into a single streaming service, which is set to launch in spring 2023. So, it may take some time before Wiedenfels’ words come to pass.