The staggering number of HBO Max TV shows coming out far outstrips WarnerMedia's cable networks
- Streaming originals made up 73% of WarnerMedia's TV commissions in Q4 2019, a dramatic increase from just 7% in Q4 2018, according to data firm Ampere Analysis.
- WarnerMedia is launching its Netflix competitor, HBO Max, in May and is investing heavily in original content for it.
- The number of WarnerMedia cable commissions decreased every quarter of 2019, according to Ampere Analysis.
- WarnerMedia is still investing in HBO, but it can be seen as fuel for HBO Max, which will include content from across the company's library.
- Questions still linger about the future of WarnerMedia's other streaming service, DC Universe, which has announced just one new original series, "Stargirl," for 2020 so far.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
WarnerMedia is drastically ramping up its streaming TV output to fuel its upcoming Netflix competitor, HBO Max.
Streaming originals made up 73% of the company's TV commissions in the fourth quarter of 2019, a huge increase from just 7% in Q4 2018, according to a new report from data firm Ampere Analysis on Wednesday.
The number of streaming originals commissioned by WarnerMedia in Q4 2019 was 46 and the number of cable originals was 17, according to Ampere Analysis. The number of streaming originals greenlit in Q4 2018 was 2, while 27 were commissioned for cable.
The report said that the number of WarnerMedia's cable commissions decreased every quarter of 2019 as it invested more heavily in HBO Max.
It's not just the number of commissions that's shifting to HBO Max's favor, but the type of content, as well.
"Warner's cable properties commissioned only four sci-fi and fantasy titles in 2019, all at HBO, while its streaming properties greenlit 12," Fred Black, an Ampere Analysis analyst, said in the report. "This is the clearest sign yet that the home of the juggernaut 'Game of Thrones' will in the future play second fiddle to HBO Max when it comes to some of Warner's highest-profile genre commissions."
The service launches in May for $14.99 per month, the same cost as HBO's standalone streaming platform, HBO Now. It will enter an increasingly competitive streaming space that includes Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Apple TV Plus. NBCUniversal's service, Peacock, also debuts in the spring.
WarnerMedia's focus on HBO Max doesn't mean it's ignoring HBO proper, however. WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey told Variety last year that he planned to increase the premium cable network's budget by $500 million in 2019 and 2020. And while HBO has grown a reputation for its Sunday-night lineup of quality programming, it aims to foster the same on Mondays with two hours of prime-time scripted series.
But it can all be seen as an effort to fuel HBO Max, which will be a one-stop shop for content across the WarnerMedia library, from HBO to Warner Bros. and DC to Cartoon Network.
Questions linger about where DC Universe fits into the plan
Noticeably quiet as HBO Max looms has been WarnerMedia's other streaming service, its fan-oriented DC Universe.
Speculation swirled about the service's future after it abruptly canceled its original series "Swamp Thing" after one season last year, though a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Business Insider in July that WarnerMedia planned to continue offering DC Universe as a standalone service for the foreseeable future.
Kevin Reilly, the HBO Max content chief, said last month during a Television Critics Association panel that he'd like the two services to coexist, though the specifics haven't been worked out.
"We have to figure out those two subscriptions, and we haven't worked out the mechanics of what that's going to look like," Reilly said.
Ampere did note that "commissioning activity for Warner's streaming channels (HBO Max and DC Universe) matched its cable networks for the first time in August 2019." But the only new DC Universe original series that has been announced so far for 2020 is "Stargirl," which Business Insider first reported in November will also air on The CW network. Other DC shows are in the works, but for HBO Max, such as a series about the space cop Green Lantern.
Other than "Stargirl," season three of "Titans" will debut in the fall and season two of "Doom Patrol" is in the works. The latter will also stream on HBO Max.
If you have a tip about HBO Max's content or the future of DC Universe, contact the author at email@example.com