The headline today is that HBO has fired 70 staff. But this isn't part of a broad shrinking of HBO - these aren't staff from the areas of HBO that you usually think about when you think HBO. These are the back room creatives and associated professionals who were (largely) hired in 2020 with the formation of HBO Max who were working in the unscripted and live-action family programming divisions at HBO Max.
With Discovery now integrated into the company, executives deemed it wasteful to run a seperate unscripted unit when it already had so many staff from Discovery doing the same thing. Successful shows like FBoy Island and Selena + Chef will continue on.
For those who lost their jobs, or have spent the past few months sleepless and worrying about their ongoing employment, this isn't a good news story. For general consumers who are more self-interested about seeing a brand they enjoy the content from being impacted, they will be heartened to know that the scripted side of the organization now has, if anything, a clearer mandate for content creation with fewer voices and internal competition. For example, two comedy units will now be streamlined into one.
Sarah Aubrey, who was previously overseeing all HBO Max originals will now just be focused on streaming drama and international productions. The emphasis at HBO Max is now on reviving established properies. Which is fine as long as OG HBO is still focused on original concepts.
Aubrey’s focus going forward will be on big, largely IP-based tentpoles. That includes high-profile DC series The Peacemaker and the upcoming The Penguin and Green Lantern, which are all moving along, as well as another upcoming series, Dune, which is now casting, and an It series adaptation, which is in fast-track development. In addition to The Peacemaker, Max has had success with dramas based on WB series IP including Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl.
And speaking of HBO...
15 August 2022 represents 30 years since The Larry Sanders Show, HBO's first hit original series, debuted on the network.
Nexstar purchases The CW
US TV channel network Nexstar Media Group has purchased 75% of the the jointly-owned The CW broadcast network from Warner Bros Discovery and Paramount Global - each will retail a 12.5% stake in The CW.
This news was expected for some months now, with The CW shedding much of its programming in anticipation of the sale. Interestingly, Nexstar aren't putting any money up for the purchase, rather the company is buying out debt from WBD and Paramount.
An interesting trivia point reported today is that the average age of The CW viewer is 58, which is a far cry from the programming strategy of targetting teens and twentysomething viewers. It is a reminder that viewers aren't easily pigeon-holed. Older people can have just-as-terrible taste in TV as younger viewers.
- Subscribers to Walmart+ (it is a loyalty scheme to rival Amazon Prime) will now get an Amazon Prime-like bonus with a video service. Only it won't be a Walmart-branded and operated service - it'll be Paramount+. Read: Deadline
- Ahead of the US 2024 Republican primaries, strategists are currently strategizing how to best use the network and get their clients onto the 'news' network. Read: The Hill
- Julia Stiles says there is no word on a 4th season of Riviera. Frankly, was there even any word surrounding seasons 2 or 3 of that show? Read: Radio Times
- TV writer-producer Marc Guggenheim has signed with CAA. I'm sure part of the thinking was whether CAA would have helped prevent his recent LA Law reboot (which he was highly passionate about) from not being picked up to go to series. Read: Variety
- Spreadsheet, an Australian Paramount+ TV series with a UK lead that seems to be ambiguously set somewhere that is either Australia or the UK, continues its grift with funding allocated to the development of a season 2. Read: TV Tonight
- Spectrum is shutting down its Originals. Read: TBI
Guillermo Del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities, an anthology series, debuts on Netflix Oct 25. Interestingly, Netflix is trying to establish this as event programming with two episodes debuting every day across four days.
Movie End of The Road debuts on Netflix Sept 9.
That's it for today. More newsletter tomorrow.