Warner Bros Discovery Is Operating Like A Normal TV Company

Warner Bros Discovery has become the media’s favorite punching bag this year. Every move is scrutinized whether it is a programming or personnel decision. For instance, its decision to drop plans for the Batgirl movie is brought up so often some people may make the mistake of thinking the company’s name is “Warner Bros Discovery which canceled Batgirl and Scoob”.

Here is the truth of the matter. WBD is operating the way that Studios and TV networks always have. It seems weird to people because over the past four years more media companies have operated on a model based almost maniacally on building streaming services and boarding up all of the material they ever made or will make going forward up like people in a rickety house during a zombie movie.

The thing about that strategy, the gated community or Zombie Apololypse strategy is that it is wildly limiting, and only works if you have a super fan level of excitement around your past and current properties. Disney can probably pull it off. It has been the go to for family entertainment since before the greatest generation stopped the Nazis in their tracks. Its brands, Marvel, Pixar, Disney, and Star Wars are essentially printing presses at the box office and the shows built within their universes are must-see TV for their fans. Honestly, pretty much everybody else in the streaming and entertainment world is kidding themselves if they think they can build the future around just subscription services with only their content in tow.

Even Disney understands this. Hulu has volumes of content that is totally unrelated to its own vast studio holdings, though after the merger with 20th Century Fox, that net grew wider. Along with a select group of originals and exclusives the streamer has grown into a powerful force in the streaming space.

So all that being said, the fact that WBD has begun to announce that projects, which were expected to be streaming or HBO exclusives, will in fact be pitched to other streaming services and suitors makes very good sense. Scoob is not going to be WBD’s own version of the Mandalorian. And if Amazon or Hulu or any other service or network thinks they can make it work than more power to them.

On the WBD front, it means money in their pockets for a project that was not going to make them much via new subscribers. Even the Batman animated show Batman: Caped Crusader,” which was expected to be an HBO Max show is looking for a home. When it finds one, that will mean that WBD will have a chance to actually cash in on a property instead of hoping that the show on its own will lead to new subscribers. And it would have to drive more subs than are lost through attrition. But the thing is that this is the way studios have always made money. DC properties never had one exclusive home before.

Batman the Animated series debuted on Fox, Superman The Animated Series was on the WB and The justice league, which was built off the backs of both series aired on The Cartoon Network. In the live action world The CW has the Arrowverse while Supergirl started life at CBS, Constantine lived on NBC for a minute or two before it was canceled, Gotham ran multiple seasons on Fox, Pennyworth began on EPIX. Along the way DC launched the DC Universe series, which became HBO Max series like Titans and The Doom Patrol.

The point is that each series was sold to the commercially supported and premium networks where they had a chance to shine instead of being gathered into a DC Ghetto. Many of those shows are now available on HBO Max but the network heads realize that maybe the reach of DC fandom can only power the service so far.

Let’s face it, Disney is the only Disney out there. And Disney+ is still not profitable. If WBD wants to pay off the massive debts it inherited from AT&Ts mismanagement, it will have to do more than fire people. Companies exist to make money not make bloggers happy. So expect to see more projects killed in their cribs and others arriving as exclusives somewhere else. This is not the end of HBO Max exclusives by any measure, but it is obvious the plan to make HBO Max and the networks owned by WBD the exclusive home of all content from the vast WBD portfolio is off.

Going forward Cartoon Network fans will see 120 Swim series available for free through the Roku channel and you can be absolutely certain that will not be the end of it.