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WBD to license titles to FAST channels as HBO Max content purge continues

Westworld is among the shows being pulled from HBO Max

Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) has revealed a number of its proprietary titles, including recently cancelled HBO drama Westworld and HBO Max reality series FBoy Island, will be licensed to third-party free, ad-supported streaming television (FAST) services.

The US-based media company on Wednesday said Westworld (four seasons), Raised by Wolves (two seasons), FBoy Island (two seasons) and Legendary (three seasons) were being pulled from SVoD service HBO Max to be used in a FAST environment, in addition to Finding Magic Mike, Head of the Class, The Time Traveler’s Wife and The Nevers.

It did not provide details about which third-party FAST services it might be working with.

Also set to be removed from HBO Max are Gordita Chronicles, Love Life, The Garcias, Minx and Made for Love.

“As shared on previous earnings call and stated by senior executives, Warner Bros Discovery continues to strategically assess how best to maximise audiences and monetisation opportunities for its content,” read a statement from WBD.

“The company has recently decided to license certain HBO and HBO Max original programming to third-party FAST services to be part of a packaged offering which will drive new, expanded audiences for these series.”

The company added that it will reveal more details about its own FAST plans in 2023.

A swath of TV and film projects have been cancelled in recent months as WBD implements sweeping cost-cutting measures across the business. In addition to the cancellation of high-profile projects like the Batgirl movie, which was in post-production at the time it was scrapped, and a spate of recent cancellations, BD has been removing dozens of projects from HBO Max altogether.

Initially, many of the titles being pulled from the service were children’s shows, but more recently WBD has shifted its focus to adult-focused scripted and unscripted fare.

Confirmation that WBD will begin licensing its content to third-party FAST services comes three months after chief financial officer Gunnar Wiedenfels discussed the company’s intention to enter the FAST space.

“We have so much content and there is a segment in pretty much every market that’s not going to be willing to pay [for a subscription service],” he said in September.

“The first priority is to get the SVoD product launched, but, in the spirit of utilising the content across as many platforms and offerings as possible, FAST is certainly a very interesting area to play in.”

In other news, a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday revealed that WBD has expects to incur pre-tax restructuring charges of between US$4.1bn and US$5.3bn, a significant increase from its original estimate of between US$3.2bn and US$4.3bn.

Within its revised estimate, WBD said between US$2.8bn and US$3.5bn will be the result of content impairment and development write-offs, indicating that there could be many more project cancellations to come.

Elsewhere, HBO Max renewed The Sex Lives of College Girls for a third season. Created by Mindy Kaling and Justin Noble, the project comes from Warner Bros Television and follows four college roommates at New England’s prestigious Essex College.


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