It’s the syndication move that nobody expected.
Tell sources The Hollywood Reporter that Warner Bros. Discovery is in active talks with Netflix to license HBO shows – including Insecure – to Netflix. Such a deal would be considered a stunning move for the two big-spending rivals, neither of whom responded immediately THR‘s request for comment on the potential licensing pact late Tuesday.
If a deal is struck, licensed content will stream on both Netflix and the recently rebranded Max. It would be the first time HBO’s acclaimed original series would be available on a rival streaming platform in the US
HBO has rarely licensed its originals outside of its own corporate siblings. Sex and the city, for example, was sold in syndication (with serious editing) to big brother TBS (and later to other basic cable networks). During Richard Plepler’s tenure as CEO, HBO license The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Deadwood And The wire, among other things to Amazon because the premium cable network did not have its own streaming platform at the time.
Sources say HBO insiders balked at the idea of licensing HBO rates to match Netflix, but in the end, sources say, finance executives at Warner Bros. won out. Discovery. Such a licensing deal would be beneficial to HBO, as it could expose its prized titles to an entirely new audience. It would also help improve WBD’s bottom line. After Discovery took control of the former WarnerMedia, the combined company ended its most recent first quarter with nearly $50 billion in debt. Layoffs continued Tuesday at WBD, with the longtime head of TCM among those affected by the latest round of layoffs at the David Zaslav-led conglomerate.
As part of WBD’s cost-cutting efforts, the company pulled a number of underperforming HBO titles from Max and licensed many of them, including the pricey HBO titles. West world — to make ad-supported streamers free in an effort to recoup some of the lost revenue.
While it’s still considered a shock that HBO titles can appear on Netflix, such a move isn’t unprecedented. Just a few years ago, Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish licensed some of his company’s streaming hits across the landscape in an effort to better showcase them to a wider audience. south park, for example, was sold to Max, who also shared Rick and Morty with Hulu. The then ViacomCBS also had a license Yellowstone to Peacock in an exclusive deal that Bakish later regretted.
deadline came first with the news.