TNT, TBS to Air Edited Versions of HBO Series ‘Silicon Valley, ‘True Blood’ to Fill Holes Left by Canceled Originals
Since Discovery acquired WarnerMedia in April 2022, the combined company has been making big, splashy waves that have generated ripples of varying sizes throughout the entire entertainment world. However, one of the less-discussed — but no less impactful — moves has been the essential shuttering of original programming at cable networks TBS and TNT.
Once a home for numerous original comedies (mostly on TBS) and dramas (mostly on TNT), the only originals on the Turner Networks are now unscripted series and licensed international shows. However, in its efforts to continue cutting costs, monetizing assets, and leaning into the brand synergy that was at the heart of the merger, Warner Bros. Discovery will begin airing episodes of two long-canceled HBO shows on the cablers as an experiment for future programming options.
According to a report from Deadline's Bruce Haring, starting on Saturday, Feb. 18, TBS will air edited versions of tech-bro comedy “Silicon Valley” and TNT will air even-more heavily edited episodes of soapy vampire drama “True Blood.” The edits will not only account for commercial breaks, but also remove sex and swearing to make sure that the uncensored originals fit cables TV-MA rating guidelines. The initial airings will be immediately followed by NBA All-Star Game coverage with “True Blood” taking up a permanent primetime spot on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on TNT and “Silicon Valley” doing the same on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on TBS.
As WBD CEO David Zaslav continues to look for ways to trim the budget and increase revenue in attempts to pull the company out of the $5 billion hole dug by the merger of the two media conglomerates, removing costly originals from the programming slate and replacing them with episodes that have already been bought and paid for makes financial sense for WBD. Additionally, by putting shows that have proven to be popular with audiences onto a platform that is more widely accessible than either HBO’s premium cable channel or streaming service HBO Max, the company is also giving audiences who discover the shows on their new linear home reason to subscribe in order to binge at their own pace.
Now, this is not the first time that HBO series have aired on basic cable in edited forms. “The Sopranos” and “Sex in the City” have both run in syndication, and the Turner Networks (also known as the TNets) have aired HBO shows “The Flight Attendant” and “Titans” as part of one-off presentations called “Front Row on TBS.” Additionally, earlier this month, WBD-owned OWN began airing the complete series of Issa Rae’s “Insecure” which was a critical and awards hit on HBO.
If this experiment works, and Warner Bros. Discovery sees viewership success on TBS and TNT, and perhaps even an increase of HBO Max streams for “Silicon Valley” and “True Blood” (especially from new subscribers), the Turner Networks will assuredly become more and more a haven for almost exclusively live sports and HBO hits from the past.
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