WBD CEO to Reexamine HBO Max’s Kids Content; What Could This Mean for Streamer Integration?
Streaming services are always looking for things that they define as “sticky”; programming that is so vital to a consumer’s entertainment diet that they just can’t live without it. For many services, family-friendly content is the stickiest of all. Not only are parents looking for new things that they can watch as a family, but they also need a deep archive of kid-focused content to keep youngsters occupied during screentime.
While the importance of child-friendly programming might be high on the list for most streaming executives, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, apparently Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav isn’t sold on the return on investment that the kids’ content has for the service.
Despite owning the libraries of perennial kid favorites Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera, and having a long-term relationship with Sesame Workshop, Zaslav wants to reexamine the place that this type of programming has on the service. While it’s unlikely that the streamer would move away from kids’ programming altogether, the new executives that took over following the WarnerMedia and Discovery merger earlier this spring reportedly aren’t sold on the fit between the kiddie cartoons and the rest of HBO Max’s prestige and more mature content; especially in relation to the expenditure required to pump out a steady stream of kids’ shows.
So if WBD is still committed to children’s programming, just not under the current HBO Max strategy, what does that mean for the presumed merger of all of the company's streaming services under a unified banner? For months, company executives have said that HBO Max and discovery+ would first be bundled and then eventually merged into a single platform, despite the disparate content that each platform brings to the relationship.
If Zaslav and company are now unsure of whether or not kids’ content — or at least at the current volume — is appropriate for the company’s classiest streamer, how do they feel about having “Dr. Pimple Popper” sharing space with “The Sopranos” or “90-Day Fiance” alongside “The Wire” or “Ghose Adventures: House Calls” in the same carousel as “Game of Thrones”?
Zaslav is an outspoken champion of having a single streaming service after he saw how ineffectual launching individual streamers for each Discovery channel was, but if he doesn’t feel that children’s programming warrants the investment to make it a cornerstone of HBO Max, it does raise questions as to what a future WBD universal streamer will look like.
HBO Max has two tiers, an ad-supported plan for $9.99 and ad-free plan for $14.99. HBO Max without ads also includes features like the ability to download offline and 4K streaming.
They also will get Max Originals that aren’t available to HBO channel subscribers, like “The Flight Attendant” (Kaley Cuoco), “Love Life” (Anna Kendrick), as well as reboots to “Sex In The City” and “Gossip Girl.”