Premium cabler HBO will be “core” to the new WarnerMedia streaming service, emphasized TBS and TNT president Kevin Reilly at the Television Critics Assn. press tour on Monday, and indicated that Netflix likely won’t hold onto “Friends” for long.
WarnerMedia’s upcoming platform, which will compete with subscription video-on-demand services such as Netflix, Amazon, and the yet-to-be-launched Disney Plus, will “build on the foundational ethos of HBO” and add to that other content from Cartoon Network, the CW, Adult Swim, New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. movies, among other brands. WarnerMedia’s brands include HBO, Turner and Warner Bros.
The still-unnamed service will initially be made available in the U.S., with an international roll-out to come later. No timetable or pricing tier details were offered. A beta version will have no original programming, but original content will be introduced in 2020. Reilly also indicated that production-wise, WarnerMedia would look to in-house resources first, but not all of its original programming would come from within.
And as for all the hubbub about WarnerMedia’s reported $100 million deal to license “Friends” to Netflix through the end of 2019, Reilly hinted that the hit show would be back in WarnerMedia’s stable soon enough.
“You can expect that the crown jewels of Warner will ultimately end up on the new service,” he said Monday, adding that “sharing destination assets like that… (is) not a good model.”
Reilly said he wants to offer a more differentiated, curated SVOD brand, and put forth the notion of “dynamic windowing,” i.e. “putting the right product on the right platform at the right time.” What that appears to mean is that shows and movies will not necessarily find permanent homes on the new streaming service, depending on what is in demand.
There is “no content in the WarnerMedia portfolio that will not be looked at for this service initially,” he said.
When asked about the WarnerMedia streamer release date vs. Disney Plus, Reilly essentially said that he didn’t see the two platforms as being in direct competition, since Disney’s streaming service is being billed as family friendly, while WarnerMedia’s offering would have a kids-and-family component, but would also offer a wider breadth of content.
WarnerMedia isn’t looking to battle with Disney or beat Netflix, said Reilly, but “close the loop” between linear television and a digital out-of-season home for content, and keep viewers within WarnerMedia’s ecosystem.