Staff from HBO and HBO Max Reality Shows Are Treated Like the “Red Wedding”
Warner Bros. Discovery’s announcement that its two different streaming services would be combined revealed the rumours of budget reduction to be accurate.
There cannot be two distinct realities, or, as Warner Bros. Discovery sees it, there can only ever be one slate of reality TV shows on the screen at any given time. Internal emails reveal that the business is laying off a substantial percentage of the staff responsible for HBO Max’s reality programming after making the announcement earlier this month that they will merge HBO Max with Discovery+ (the latter is far better recognised for its reality TV programmes).
According to internal documents viewed by publications like Insider, 70 employees, or roughly 14% of the crew at HBO and HBO Max under Chief Content Officer Casey Bloys, were let go on Monday. The cuts primarily affected the unscripted and reality programme departments at HBO Max, but some employees in casting and acquisitions were also affected.
Bloys attributed the necessity to dismantle or restructure various teams to changes to the company’s general business model and the quickly changing environment, according to the complete internal memo made available by Deadline. Along with its foreign originals, teams that are suffering significant cuts include the non-fiction and live-action family teams. As a result, executives including Jennifer O’Connell, vice president of the live action team, and Jennifer Kim, who oversaw the international originals, are also departing their positions. Linda Lowy and Michael Quigley, the executive vice presidents of casting and content acquisition, are reportedly also being let go.
Before the company announced its integrated services, there were persistent rumours of layoffs. When Gizmodo asked Warner Bros. Discovery for comment on whether laid-off employees would receive money or assistance with job searches, they did not react right away.
Although it was stated in the letter that some existing reality programming would continue, “renewal decisions will be based on traditional metrics of performance,” According to an anonymous source familiar with HBO’s decision-making, Insider has learned that some shows, including Legendary, FBoy Island, and House of Ho, will be renewed. A skeleton group of HBO Max unscripted employees will stay on to ensure that those programmes complete their lifespans in the interim.
The company’s casting procedures will now be managed by external casting directors rather than in-house ones, according to the letter to staff, while some other executives are being moved around.
The Travel Channel, Animal Planet, and TLC are just a few of the well-known reality programmes that are currently available on Discovery+, so it would appear that the more established HBO brand is not in need of its own reality programming. For its part, HBO has concentrated on a range of reality programmes that appeal to various cultural groups, such as House of Ho, which centred on the wealthy Ho family from Houston, Texas.
David Zaslav, president of Warner Bros. Discovery, stated on the company’s August Q2 earnings call that they needed to be “flexible toward user preferences.” According to the most recent financial report, there are around 92.1 million subscribers to HBO, HBO Max, and Discovery+. The business stated that it aimed to achieve 130 million users worldwide.
Warner Bros. said they were looking into a “ad-light” subscription service to help “improve monetization,” but they haven’t yet revealed the name of their new merged service. It’s unclear that combining HBO and Discovery will result in any cost savings for subscribers given that other firms like Disney increased the price of their services and bundles, including the ones with advertisements.