CEO David Zaslav’s next move in getting the cash flowing at Warner Bros. Discovery could be falling into place, and it’s an unexpected play if genuine. He is going to allow programming normally exclusive to HBO to air on Netflix as part of a new deal that would bring down a barrier that’s almost a decade strong.
Deadline initially reported that WBD and Netflix were in talks to make this happen and the deal isn’t finalized. Their sources are unnamed but the first title they understand as part of the arrangement is the Issa Rae-created comedy Insecure which lasted for five seasons. This would mark the first time in nearly ten years an HBO show would exist on a rival streaming service.
Other titles are being discussed though not without pushback. “According to sources, this is a financial move. We hear HBO veterans pushed back against the plan but corporate financial consideration won out,” Deadline says. They add that the deal could still fall apart, but “it marks a major strategy shift across the premium pay landscape.”
That shift, in fact, began a little while ago. HBO, begrudgingly or not, already loaned out select titles from their library such as Westworld to Tubi and the Roku Channel. Before that, in 2014, they licensed The Sopranos, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, and The Wire to Amazon Prime Video before the service took off as a competitor.
In basic cable, HBO selections from Sex and the City to The Sopranos appeared on TBS, E!, and A&E among other networks in a $200 million push for off-network syndication. Entourage reruns became a staple of Spike TV as a result and the same was true for Curb Your Enthusiasm and the defunct TV Guide Channel/Pop TV.
Deadline notes, “However, this latest move would be a first in the streaming era, particularly given the increased vertical integration of all of the major Hollywood studios.” Vertical integration in Hollywood’s golden age, when they owned the means of production and distribution, was the norm until the government started looking at the studios as unfair monopolies.
Streaming has changed a lot of that in the current era, but one thing it hasn’t changed is Warner Bros.’s debt situation and need for money. The need is getting worse with The Flash bombing, which is not the optimal way to end the Snyderverse especially as the fandom suggests new and novel ways to continue it.
A bird in the hand being worth two in the bush, Zaslav might be positioning to kill two with one stone by opening a door here for redemption. WBD opening up to doing business with Netflix, where Zack Snyder is stationed, could catalyze a sale or loaning of his iterations of DC characters to their competitor, hypothetically.
Of course, there would be red tape to cut through and deals to negotiate first before the whole “Sell the Snyderverse to Netflix” thing can be considered feasible if it could be assumed at all.
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