News and sports will definitely have a place in the world of streaming, but may require new formats and programming concepts to make them fit the needs of modern audiences, according to the executive who oversees WarnerMedia’s HBO Max.
News and sports programming are a significant factor in keeping consumers tethered to cable and satellite subscriptions in an era rife with cord-cutting, said Andy Forssell, general manager of HBO Max, while speaking Thursday at an investor conference hosted by Barclays. But the way those formats are presented will likely have to change for streaming viewers, he said.
“It’s not just how do we present those games,” he said of streaming sports included in rights deals with the company’s Turner Sports. “What shoulder content goes around it? Should the talent that’s connected to it be different in the digital world?” As for news, Forssell said WarnerMedia was considering whether content from CNN “is something you can do independent, something you can do as part of HBO Max. That is being worked out now.”
The executive’s remarks come as WarnerMedia is placing more emphasis on streaming video. The company earlier this week launched an ad-supported version of HBO Max. And in April, it unveiled a new seven-year deal with the National Hockey League that allows for games to be streamed, though executives have cautioned they don’t expect to do so in the first season under the new pact. Behind the scenes, executives from WarnerMedia have been mulling the potential for a streaming-video outlet for CNN that would likely pair anchors and correspondents with programs and topics about which they are passionate. “We don’t think it’s just repurposing [news content] and putting it online in some IP-directed format,” said Forssell. “We think some of that needs to change.”
Forssell predicted many media companies with streaming services would experiment in a number of different areas throughout 2021 and 2022, including how best to distribute movies and films in both theaters and on the new broadband venues.