David Zaslav, CEO of Warner, defends TV orthodoxy, even if he distorts it

David Zaslav fondly reminisced about his NBC cable days during a Warner Bros. Discovery earnings call. Getty Images for Discovery, Inc.

HBO Max, owned by Warner Bros. Discovery, is sticking to its strategy of releasing new episodes of popular shows one at a time, despite viewers getting used to the full-season releases that proliferated on streaming platforms over the past decade.

“The best way to drive interest and engagement is not to drop the entire season on a platform all at once, but to let the buzz and anticipation grow over time,” said David Zaslav, CEO of Warner, yesterday (Feb 23). The executive is the former head of the cable division at NBC Universal.

After years of providing alternatives to traditional television models, streaming platforms are increasingly reverting to older ways of doing things. After launching ad-free, Netflix and Disney+ introduced ad-supported tiers to their services last year to diversify their revenue streams and reach new consumers. Amazon Prime Video, YouTube TV and Apple TV paid for live sports broadcasting rights, a staple of television broadcasting, to attract new audiences and monetize running ads.

Netflix popularized binge-watching by releasing full seasons of shows House of cards And Orange is the new black in 2013. The all-season dump became the norm for streaming platforms, but they’ve increasingly abandoned that practice in recent years. Netflix releases a new one you And Firefly Lane seasons in two parts this year. Some of HBO Max’s most popular shows, including Euphoria, House of the Dragon, white lotus and his latest hit The last of us– were all released weekly.

“It reminds me of my time at NBC when Thursday Night was must-see TV,” Zaslav said on the earnings call. “Those shows had a huge effect on people and culture.”

Warner Bros. Streaming Surges Discovery does not outweigh the high cost

In the three months ended Dec. 31, Warner’s streaming platforms — Discovery+ and HBO Max — gained 1.1 million subscribers, bringing the company’s total to 96.1 million. profit statement. Netflix has 231 million subscribers, while Disney+ has that 162 million.

The streaming services made $2.45 billion during the same period. Although revenues increased from the same time last year, they were not enough to offset the losses. Warner’s streaming business has cost the company $217 million in the past three months. That’s less than the three months ended Sept. 30 in which streaming cost the company $634 million.

Warner’s isn’t alone in hosting unprofitable streaming platforms. Most services reportedly don’t make money for their parent companies, including Disney+, Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video.

“Last year was a year of restructuring,” Zaslav said in the phone call. “2023 will be a year of construction.”

The company will be making new films in the Lord of the Rings, Batman And Superman franchises in the coming years, Zaslav said. It will also “take full advantage” of it Harry Potter And Game of Thrones intellectual property as well, he said, though he did not specify what new content is coming.

David Zaslav, CEO of Warner, defends TV orthodoxy even as he tries to disrupt it

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