WBD President and CEO David Zaslav Updates on HBO Max and Discovery+ Merger, New Heads of DC Studios, and More during Latest Earnings Call

Image: Warner Bros. Discovery

WBD President and CEO David Zaslav gave a lengthy breakdown of the many changes happening within the company during its latest earnings call. David Zaslav has been aggressively culling all of the company’s services as part of a strategy for long-term growth and success. A plethora of shows and movie projects have gotten the axe in the past six months. He didn’t beat around the bush in addressing the changes and immediately began his report by acknowledging them.

Hello everyone and thank you for joining us. Let me start by saying I am pleased with all that we have accomplished in just our first six months as a combined company. We have had to work through a number of really tough issues; some anticipated, some unexpected and we continue to make the difficult decisions that we know are necessary to position our company for long-term growth and success.

Mr. Zaslav identified three strategy profiles for the company. First was content where he said that “All the hard work we are doing now will allow us to continue making meaningful investments in content to support our plans going forward.” He gave praise to the new teams abroad but also, in particular, to the new heads of DC Studios, James Gunn and Peter Safran.

No one embodies this creative commitment more than our new Heads of DC Studios, James Gunn and Peter Safran, who have said that running DC Studios is a passion project, not just a job. James is a brilliant storyteller who has the distinction of being the first and only filmmaker to direct a movie for both Marvel and DC.

Peter is a prolific producer whose credits include DC’s highest-grossing movie Aquaman, as well as the entire Conjuring Universe, the most successful horror franchise of all time.

New content

In emphasizing content he confirmed the many projects now in the works. From Matt Reeves (The Batman) and Todd Philips (Joker) to Chuck Lorre (The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men) and Quinta Brunson (Abbot Elementary), he mentioned a few upcoming titles.

To that end, we’ve recently signed a long-term deal with Matt Reeves, who co-wrote and directed The Batman and created the upcoming new series The Penguin for HBO Max. Todd Phillips will begin filming the highly anticipated Joker sequel next month. We signed an overall deal with Quinta Brunson, a trailblazer who brought us the hugely popular Emmy winning TV series, Abbott Elementary. And our longtime partner, the prolific Chuck Lorre is producing his first series for HBO Max, the upcoming comedy How To Be A Bookie with Sebastian Maniscalco, just to name a few.

This was only the tip of the iceberg as Mr. Zaslav listed off a slew of other projects that have managed to escape the chopping block. Many of these were already known to be in development, or even on their way to release.

  • The Flash
  • Upcoming Shazam Sequel
  • Doom 2
  • Upcoming Aquaman Sequel
  • Wonka – a prequel
  • The Color Purple – A new movie produced by Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Quincy Jones
  • Blue Beetle -It will be DC’s first superhero movie starring a Latino character and directed by Angel Manuel Soto
  • The Idol – A new series from Sam Levinson for HBO and HBO Max
  • The Last of Us – recently given a release date on HBO Max
  • Lazarus Project – A new script and original series for TNT
  • Joker 2
  • Oceans 11 prequel

The next strategic priority is maximizing the overall value of the company’s content. An emphasis on monetizing its many properties from TV and movies to games was made. He said the company will be launching its own VOD service in 2023.

Discovery+

The final strategic priority is operating as one company where the WBD President and CEO shared more details about the Discovery+ merger and the company’s various sports deals. In regards to Discovery+, it was announced that the official launch date for the new HBO Max/Discovery+ merged service has been moved up to spring 2023. He also said the company is already experimenting with bringing content over to HBO Max and it has added a new suggestion option for users similar to what other streaming services offer.

A few quick examples. One is related to the product user experience. Previously, when a series concluded on HBO Max, there was no end card that would then recommend additional programs for the user to enjoy, an obvious way to drive greater consumer engagement. We’ve started rolling this out and are already seeing very promising engagement uplift.

A second example around content, we’ve begun experimenting with bringing D+ content onto HBO Max. Starting with select Magnolia Network shows such as Fixer Upper: The Castle, which was a top five show after only its first few days on the service.

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Peter Brosdahl
As a child of the 70’s I was part of the many who became enthralled by the video arcade invasion of the 1980’s. Saving money from various odd jobs I purchased my first computer from a friend of my dad, a used Atari 400, around 1982. Eventually it would end up being a lifelong passion of upgrading and modifying equipment that, of course, led into a career in IT support.

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