In a very surprising move, it seems Warner Bros. Discovery may be shopping some of the HBO library to streaming rival Netflix. The talks are mostly around the Issa Rae comedy “Insecure,” which ran for 5 seasons ending in December of 2021. But other titles are possibly being discussed as well.
Though reports do stress the potential deal is still VERY much in its infancy, and may fall apart. If this deal does happen, it could mean huge things for how streaming content is handled across platforms. It’s understood the shows being distributed would be on a non-exclusive basis. Meaning a show like “Insecure” could still be on Max while also being offered on Netflix.
David Zaslav, CEO at Warner Bros. Discovery, has already made it clear he is willing to forego exclusivity and license content to boost the bottom line. Which tracks with the slash-and-burn model the company has had over the past year or so when it comes to projects to cut down on costs. Case in point, the now infamous cancelation of the “Batgirl” movie. Basically, revenue is revenue and it’s becoming increasingly clear that the current model of exclusive content across multiple paid platforms is not sustainable.
And it seems Warner may see that writing on the wall. Earlier this year the company moved to distribute titles like “Westworld” on free streaming platforms like Tubi and Roku. “Insecure” has already aired on the cable network OWN. While, that is still Warner Bros. Discovery-owned currently it is rare to see an HBO series run on basic cable.
HBO already has an established history of off-network syndication, most of it just predates the streaming wars. Over a decade ago the company sold edited versions of “Sex and the City” to TBS leading to it airing on E!/Style as well. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” was licensed to air on the TV Guide Channel. “Entourage” was broadcast on the network Spike. And the granddaddy of all their licensing deals, “The Sopranos” airing on A&E in a $200 million deal.
In 2014, HBO even licensed several series like “The Sopranos,” “Deadwood,” “Six Feet Under,” and “The Wire” to Amazon Prime. Though to be fair, this deal happened before Amazon became a serious rival in terms of premium original content.
So that’s why the possibility of Warner Bro. Discovery licensing HBO content to Netflix should be taken with a grain of salt. But the all-mighty dollar is a powerful motivator so it’s far from outside the realm of possibility. Since a deal like this would give these shows additional exposure, reaching a new global audience. Not to mention a new potential revenue stream for the company.
Currently, Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery have not commented on this rumored deal.