Opinion: HBO maximizes viewers

By Sebastian Aguilar, Blobcast Program Manager

HBO Max has been hemorrhaging since CEO David Zaslav announced a new content direction in anticipation of HBO Max and Discovery+ merging into one service.

HBO Max previously boasted of being the home of everything under the Warner Brothers umbrella.

Current HBO offerings include originals like Game of Thrones, Veep and Succession, Swimming properties for adults like The Boondocks, The Venture Bros. and Aqua Team Hunger Force and all films owned by Warner Brothers such as Citizen Kane, Harry Potter and SpaceJam.

However, that all changed with the completion of Warner Media’s merger with Discovery. This resulted in the media mega-conglomerate Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD). In the midst of closing that deal, a massive restructuring effort resulted in Discovery CEO Zaslav taking over as head of WBD. For the first few months, nothing functionally changed with the content on HBO Max. This didn’t last long, however, as Zaslav announced an overhaul of many divisions within the Warner Brothers content field.

Over the past month, numerous series have been canceled or not renewed left and right, and 36 titles have been announced as leaving the streaming service.

Twenty HBO Max Originals were going to be removed, including Close enough, Infinity Train and one sesame street spin off. especially the movie bat girl was removed, even though it had already come out of post-production.

Many HBO Max subscribers have expressed their anger over the cancellation of dozens of original titles. This includes large amounts of animated content, as well as the cancellation of planned projects like Bat Girl.

The official reason given for bat girlThe cancellation was that the movie didn’t fit the new direction Zaslav is pushing DC. However, it was reported by Variety that WBD is taking a tax deduction from the film to recoup production losses.

For the remaining 36 titles, their removal was to cut costs due to low viewership, which makes sense as a reason for cancellation. It would even justify the removal if they were licensed shows they bought from other companies to be on HBO Max. This is standard in the streaming industry. However, 20 of those shows were made in-house for HBO Max with Warner Brothers money.

By removing Max’s original content, they’re functionally throwing all the money they’ve invested in production, marketing, and distribution down the drain. It would be like Netflix removing Big mouth so as not to reach their target audience. If a show you created for your site fails commercially, you shouldn’t scrap the program altogether, you should just leave it there and hope it gets a cult fan base later on.

HBO Max may never have said it wanted to be the streaming home of animation; however, they have created one functionally. Of the 10 brand hubs Max displays on his site, six are animation-based, like Cartoon Network and Studio Ghibli. They announced new anime movies such as Batman: The Masked Crusader and The Amazing World of Gumball: The Moviewhich were later canceled during this content purge.

Both the Max Originals and the DC Hubs, while not purely anime-based, contain a fair amount of original animated content like Close enough and young justice. By removing them from HBO Max, it became almost impossible to watch them without resorting to piracy.

The fallout from this HBO Max content purge is that many writers, animators, and content creators have lost faith in WBD to respect their work enough to keep it on the platform.

Owen Dennis, one of the creators of the deleted show infinite trainrevealed on his personal blog, “Cartoon Network warned Zaslav not to do so as it would harm creator and talent relationships, but they clearly don’t care what it looks like publicly, let alone what it looks like. we think about it.”

The reaction from show creators across the industry has been overwhelmingly negative.

“What’s the point of doing something, spending years working on it, spending nights and weekends doing their terrible grades, losing sleep and not seeing our families, if it’s just going to be carried away and shot in the backyard?” asked Dennis.


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