What a difference just a few months can make. Mid to late last year, comments were made by Patrick Delany, CEO of Australian pay TV provider Foxtel, that they were looking at a future beyond the HBO deal it has in place.
For about a decade now, HBO was the foundation to Foxtel's drama strategy, using it as a key driver of programming and its marketing for both its traditional pay TV service and its newer streamer Binge.
Writing in The Guardian last year, I made reference to the fanciful idea that HBO owner Warner Bros Discovery might re-sign its deal with Foxtel - it would be counter to what seemed to be the global strategy. But the past 6 months or so have been transformational for Warner Bros Discovery as the media giant has been ending production deals, cancelling shows, selling shows to other networks, licensing out content to FAST channels, and more. It is about squeezing as much profit out of WBD as possible and driving down its debt. One way to further knock back that debt: cut a deal with Foxtel to license out that HBO content for a few more years.
It seems pretty clear to me that WBD is moving as fast as possible to get the company looking financially appealing to a possible buyer - read the tea leaves on its decision to keep reality streaming platform Discovery+ active even as it moves to further integrate Discovery content onto a soon-to-be-rebranded HBO Max.
Nothing is confirmed yet, but Zoe Samios at SMH is reporting that the deal has not yet been signed, but would lock in the HBO content until at least 2025.
Foxtel’s new deal with Warner Discovery will solidify the position of Binge in the streaming market. But it is expected to be the most expensive rights deal in local history and will add pressure to the company’s bottom line. It is the latest in a series of highly expensive deals for Foxtel with key sports including Cricket Australia and the AFL, and NBC Universal.
Warner Bros suing Paramount over South Park
From the outside, Warner Bros Discovery has every right to be pissed off over Paramounts handling of South Park. After signing a $500 million-ish deal for the South Park library plus the new episodes, Paramount then went and commissioned South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker to produce original South Park specials, diluting the value of the new episodes.
The deal was supposed to bring the show’s entire library, as well as the 30 upcoming new episodes for seasons 24, 25, and 26 to HBO Max until June 2025. However, Warner Bros. Discovery alleges it didn’t get what it paid for. It claims South Park Digital Studios fell short of its promise to provide 10 new episodes for each season and charged the company extra for the 50-minute Pandemic Special.
Succession to end with upcoming fourth season
Jesse Armstrong, creator of Succession, has had hit shows before. Nothing on the scale of Succession, but as the co-creator of Peep Show and (to a lesser extent) Fresh Meat, Armstrong knows the perils of running a beloved show for too long. Boy, those final seasons of Peep Show...
As such, Armstrong is bringing Succession to an end with its fourth season while the show is still on top in terms of popularity and the creative. Which isn't to say he isn't interested in continuing the show in some form, possibly a spin-off...
“I do think that this succession story that we were telling is complete,” he said. “This is the muscular season to exhaust all our reserves of interest, and I think there’s some pain in all these characters that’s really strong. But the feeling that there could be something else in an allied world, or allied characters, or some of the same characters – that’s also strong in me. I have caveated the end of the show, when I’ve talked to some of my collaborators, like: Maybe there’s another part of this world we could come back to, if there was an appetite?”
- Warner Bros has sold its upcoming HBO Max DC Comics show Dead Boy Detectives to Netflix. Read: THR
- AMC has reversed its order for the now-cancelled second season of Soulmates. Read: THR
- Vice Media CEO Nancy Dubuc is stepping down. Read: Variety
- The final episode of the Animaniacs reboot apparently ends with them all murdered by a falling asteroid. Read: NY Post
- Newspapers have, en masse, removed the Dilbert comic strip following racist comments made by creator Scott Adams. No word on any TV services still carrying the long-cancelled Dilbert TV show. Read: NYT
And that's that. More newsletter tomorrow.