Saturday, December 5, 2020

Report: WarnerMedia In Talks to Start Streaming

WarnerMedia executives are discussing launching two new streaming services, reports The Information. 

One would be a subscription offering based on content from CNN and could launch next year. Another would be a free service carrying programming from its entertainment cable channels TBS and TNT as well as the Warner Bros. film library, said people familiar with the situation. 

The free entertainment service is very early in the planning and likely wouldn’t launch until 2022, if at all. The two possible services would be in addition to HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s flagship streaming service, which launched last May, and a forthcoming ad-supported version of HBO Max that the company has said will launch next year.

Jason Kilar
The proliferation of new services reflects CEO Jason Kilar’s strategy of shifting Warner away from its historic reliance on cable channels and into the new world of streaming. Cable is declining as a business as consumers cut the cord in favor of cheaper streaming offerings. Kilar, who took the reins of Warner in May, is a pioneer in video streaming, having been the first CEO of Hulu.

A sign of how Kilar is prioritizing streaming over Warner’s traditional businesses came on Thursday, when the company announced it would make all of next year’s film releases available on HBO Max for a month even as they also show in theaters. While the move is designed to deal with the pandemic, which has shuttered theaters, it will give HBO Max a boost.

Most other traditional entertainment companies have launched streaming services to supplement their cable channels—Discovery unveiled its Discovery+ service this week. Disney runs three: Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+. Others, such as ViacomCBS, run both subscription-streaming services that don’t show ads and free streaming services that are ad supported. Comcast’s NBCUniversal launched Peacock this year with an ad-free version that costs several dollars a month, along with a lower-cost version and a free version that are ad supported.

Warner is moving in the same direction as part of an effort to ensure that it can generate both subscription and advertising revenue. The services it is considering launching are likely to have ads.

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