Jump to content

Warner Bros/Discovery/HBO Max (and the impermanence of streaming media)


Nick R
 Share

Recommended Posts

Some of this has been in the Batgirl thread but let's give it a thread of its own.

 

WB has a history of surviving being bought by/merged with other companies:

 

1898579287_WBSevenArts.jpg.88d6f01211e9692ab96d67ebcff64ee9.jpg 617918524_WBKinney.jpg.f467175c25676d09bd3502467df94e76.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's the difference between their two streaming services, as described by CEO David Zaslav:

https://www.avclub.com/hbo-max-discovery-plus-genredom-male-skew-merger-1849375117

 

2081603614_HBOMaxvsDiscovery.jpg.535e37785000f3a936e80a1d6856ec49.jpg

 

 

 

 

Recently, lots of things have been removed from HBO Max, even things owned by WB and not available to stream anywhere else. These range from things as recent as the Zemeckis version of The Witches, to things as old as early episodes of Sesame Street:
 

 

Additionally, things associated with promoting the removed series elsewhere online are being deleted, such as YouTube clips, soundtrack albums, and even tweets mentioning the programmes' titles. Tweet by the creator of OK KO:

 

 

 

 

Lots of people asked: "Why do this? Surely it costs WB almost nothing to host streaming copies of things that it owns?"

 

Apparently not, because of residuals that go towards the animators' union:

 

 

 

Owen Dennis, the creator of the removed series Infinity Train (who has now changed his Twitter bio to "Creator of #InfinityTrain, a show that got pulled from @HBOMax and can now only be pirated") wrote this Substack newsletter about the situation:

 

https://owendennis.substack.com/p/so-uh-whats-going-on-with-infinity
 

Quote

People have been working behind the scenes for days now trying to figure out what’s going on. A thousand phone calls, texts, and emails have been sent, but the problem is that the entirety of Warner and Discovery is undergoing a merger. This means that people who you would normally talk to have been fired, moved, or quit, so no one has any idea how to get the information they need right now. This is the same thing that happened in the early months of the merger with AT&T. Never cheer for a corporate merger, they help about 100 people and hurt thousands.

 

Quote

I was also assured late yesterday evening that the show is not being used for that tax write off loophole that is now so overwhelmingly associated with Batgirl and Scoob!: Holiday Haunt. Will this continue to be true? I also don’t know, but the end date for the tax write off is the beginning of September, so maybe that will give us a hint.

 

Quote

Why did they do this?
No one knows, but we do know it was a direct order from Discovery, and it’s about saving money somehow. The general consensus is that it has something to do with paying animators and artists their royalties that they’re owed for their work. You will sometimes see an argument online of “well they were already paid the artists to make it, so what are they complaining about?” Do not listen to someone who says this because they either don’t understand or don’t care about what our pay structure is.

 

Our pay is not complete without the ongoing royalties. Those royalties aren’t paid directly to the artists, they actually go to our union to pay for our healthcare. So not paying artists royalties on their work means they are indirectly defunding our healthcare.

 

This also means that music and actor royalties will stop. For reference, the first quarter of this year I made $388.45 off of royalties from voicing One-One. We’re not talking about a whole lot of money here, that’s the equivalent of the studio accidentally buying an extra office chair.

 

CNBC has estimated that this will likely save Discovery somewhere in the tens of millions of dollars. A very small drop in the bucket of the 3 billion that David Zaslov has said he wants save by 2023.

 

CNBC also says “Everything getting pulled from HBO Max was infrequently watched, according to people familiar with the matter.” First off, no one is familiar with the matter, because the entire industry has been trying to reach people that are familiar with the matter for three days and haven’t been able to do so.

 

That said, it’s hard to believe that Shock Corridor, Mystery of the Wax Museum, The X From Outer Space, Ice Station Zema, Red Sonja or Captain Blood, while all fantastic movies in their own rights, are being “frequently watched”. So clearly, it’s not frequency, therefore it must be something else.

 

However, if they WERE able to find someone familiar with the matter and it WAS about frequency, Discovery has failed to show statistics or provide what metrics they’re using. By all publicly available metrics, Infinity Train was in the 91st percentile in children’s media, at it’s height* was 17x more popular than the average TV show, as of yesterday evening was #1, #2, #3, and #5 on itunes for kids and family, and in the top 20 on iTunes overall.

 

Or maybe it was underperforming. No way to know for sure, as they haven’t provided anyone with the actual numbers or metrics they’re using, not even their own shareholders.

 

 

These film and TV series removals, and the finances of the merged companies, raise some wider questions about the shift away from physical media and towards streaming, such as:

 

1. The ethics of using piracy to preserve media that would otherwise be lost (Owen Dennis's post above includes a section with his opinion on this).

 

2. The temporary nature of things available only via streaming. We had a thread in Discussion about what digital collections mean for game ownership, but I don't think we've had a similar one about film & TV:

 

 

3. Will it really turn out to be a sound financial decision for the whole film and TV industry to try and follow Netflix? :unsure: Yes, Netflix's subscriber numbers and share price were increasing until recently, which has led to Amazon, Disney, Paramount, Hulu etc focusing on making CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT to attract subscribers. But is that amount of film and TV production sustainable with the current funding system based around monthly subscriptions? Especially now there are so many competing services, and people will start cycling their subscriptions between multiple different services every few months.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 hours ago, Nick R said:

3. Will it really turn out to be a sound financial decision for the whole film and TV industry to try and follow Netflix? :unsure: Yes, Netflix's subscriber numbers and share price were increasing until recently, which has led to Amazon, Disney, Paramount, Hulu etc focusing on making CONTENT CONTENT CONTENT to attract subscribers. But is that amount of film and TV production sustainable with the current funding system based around monthly subscriptions? Especially now there are so many competing services, and people will start cycling their subscriptions between multiple different services every few months.

 

The hot idea in business economics is rental and nobody owning anything anymore so they all attempt to get in on the latest hot trend. It makes sense in terms of 'recurrent revenue' and becoming a landlord with indentured tenants forced to pay you until death for your product. Software is generally attempting to go in this direction too.

 

It certainly isn't sustainable at current subscription prices, but those only exist because you're in the landgrab phase of the business plan and anybody who thinks otherwise is delusional.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Everyone on here writes endless posts about too many streaming services, and then one gets consolidated and they all go "oh no, not like that". Isn't this what you wanted? No way did Warner/HBO/Discovery/ESPN need four or five different streaming services.

 

Spare me these posts about how it's all been downhill since your DVD collection.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, RubberJohnny said:

Everyone on here writes endless posts about too many streaming services, and then one gets consolidated and they all go "oh no, not like that". Isn't this what you wanted? No way did Warner/HBO/Discovery/ESPN need four or five different streaming services.

 

Spare me these posts about how it's all been downhill since your DVD collection.

 

separate the content creators from the content providers, you bore.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This sort of news make me very glad I haven't gotten rid of my physical discs.

 

Piracy is a great way to get around this stuff but even there you have to deal with the fact that we're not living in the mid-2000's anymore and governments and companies have gotten a lot more savvy in how to deal with that stuff. Can't even remember the last time I pirated something anymore.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.