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HBO looks to 'flex up on development' of new originals to compete with Netflix

Contributed by
Jul 25, 2018

Since AT&T acquired WarnerMedia (and thus networks like HBO), there’s been some talk about how the media company will be able to restore the premium channel to its former prestige glory in the face of streaming competitors like Netflix, which recently passed HBO in Emmy nominations for the first time ever.

According to Variety, the strategy — which is an increase in spending on new programming — is beginning to be put into motion. WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey spoke at AT&T’s second-quarter earnings call, explaining that new projects were on the horizon due to increased support from corporate leaders. “We have a tremendous amount of great projects already in the funnel,” Stankey said. “They’ve not been in a position to say yes to because of constraints on certain resources. We’re attempting to open up those constraints on high-quality top projects.”

Some genre projects that recently saw the green light include Joss Whedon’s sci-fi series The Nevers, which was ordered straight to series a little over a week ago, a Game of Thrones prequel series, and a mysterious Watchmen series. These may not have benefited directly from this new monetary initiative (which doesn’t have an exact figure, but is allowing HBO’s development team to feel “comfortable that we can flex up on development”), but they will still be adding to the schedule that will contribute to the network’s overall strategy.

By pushing out more content, HBO aims to increase its subscribers’ watching consistency and reduce subscription churn by keeping a steady schedule of must-watch shows on the air. That way, subscribers won’t see a lull in programming that speaks to their interests.

Stankey then refuted a previously circulated claim that AT&T was pushing HBO to alter its programming to reach a broader, more Netflix-like audience. Stankey said this was “not accurate.” So hopefully, if this meeting’s statements are to be believed, HBO will not be changing course in tone, but in volume alone. And more HBO shows is never a bad thing.