Warner Bros. Discovery programming execs are trying a new experiment: Airing some iconic modern-day HBO programming on basic cable, beginning with comedy “Silicon Valley” on TBS and drama “True Blood” on TNT this Saturday.
As this is TV — not HBO — the shows will be edited both for content (receiving a TV-MA rating) and ad breaks. While this is not the first time HBO content has been refashioned for cable — think “Sex and the City” or “The Sopranos,” both of which were sold into syndication — it does mark a first for programming produced and aired on HBO in more recent years. (“True Blood” ended in 2014, “Silicon Valley” concluded in 2019.)
The reruns will launch immediately out of NBA All Star coverage on the the cablers, with “True Blood” beginning Saturday after the game on TNT and “Silicon Valley” on TBS. Following that initial premiere, “True Blood” will move to its regular time period on Mondays at 10 p.m. on TNT. “Silicon Valley” will air Sundays at 10 p.m. on TBS.
“We have an enviable arsenal of networks and assets which gives us flexibility and allows us to put our impressive content library to work on platforms where it can attract new audiences,” Kathleen Finch, chairman and chief content officer of Warner Bros. Discovery’s U.S. Networks Group, told Variety. “On any given night 30% of the available cable audience is watching one of our networks — on average that’s more than 86 million viewers a week — so our ability to move content around and promote to and engage that huge audience strengthens our hand in an evolving business.”
Warner Bros. Discovery, formed nearly a year ago by the merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia, will be monitoring Nielsen returns to see how viewers react to the HBO content on the cable channels before deciding on longterm scheduling strategies. If it works out, there’s a lot of IP for Finch and her team to mine for the so-called T-Nets, on top of the six seasons of “Silicon Valley” and seven seasons of “True Blood.”