Audience Network as it currently exists is coming to an end.
Variety has learned that the network, which has been owned by AT&T since the company acquired DirecTV, will cease operations this spring and transition into a preview channel for HBO Max, the upcoming streaming service from WarnerMedia, which is also owned by AT&T.
“We will begin to transition Audience Network from its current approach to support AT&T’s broader original content and marketing focus on the upcoming HBO Max service,” said Daniel York, chief content officer of AT&T Consumer. “I am proud and grateful to the team at Audience for their many successes over the years, creating unique, fresh and provocative content along with our great studio partners. 20 years ago we were the first pay TV provider to differentiate our content offering with the best exclusive original content, and the team truly brought to life the network vision: Always Original, Never Ordinary.”
There is no official word yet on the fate of the remaining Audience Network originals, but sources indicate they could potentially be moved over to HBO Max.
When asked about what will happen to its remaining shows, an AT&T spokesperson said, “Any future use of Audience Network content will be assessed at a later date.”
Audience Network has few scripted originals left in its lineup. The third season of the drama series “Mr. Mercedes” aired its finale in November with no word yet on a fourth. Comedy “Loudermilk” was renewed for a third season in December 2018 but it has yet to air. The same is true of the thriller series “Condor,” which was renewed for a second season in July 2018 that also has not yet aired. The comedy “You Me Her” was renewed for a fifth and final season back in May.
The move will also more than likely mean layoffs are in store for Audience’s remaining staff, but again no official details on that are available at this time.
“Over the coming weeks, we will be evaluating our workforce needs as we continue working with our partners at WarnerMedia on the Audience Transition,” an AT&T spokesperson said.
Audience launched as FreeView in 1999 and primarily focused on music and concerts. It grew its content portfolio and was rebranded to The 101 Network in early 2005, and finally to Audience Network in 2010 when it expanded into scripted original series.
The move to shut down the channel is not altogether unexpected, as Audience Network has failed to find large viewership for its originals. At the same time, AT&T has been bullish about its prospects for HBO Max, which will feature content from the Warner Bros. film and television libraries as well as original programming.
The shutdown of Audience also raises questions about the future of other offerings under the WarnerMedia umbrella. Questions have lingered for some time now about the fate of the streaming service DC Universe, with those questions only multiplying following announcements like “Doom Patrol” airing its second season on both DCU and HBO Max. Likewise, episodes of the upcoming DCU show “Stargirl” will air on The CW the day after their streaming debut and will also be available on The CW’s digital platforms.