Rumors swirled earlier this month that mass layoffs were coming to HBO and HBO Max amid the announcement that the streaming platform would be merging with WarnerMedia‘s Discovery+ — and it looks like that panic was well-founded.
On Monday, an internal company memo viewed by Insider revealed that the company would be letting go around 70 employees, or 14% of the company’s total workforce.
“Unfortunately, the environment in which we operate is changing rapidly, and it is up to us to continue to refine our model to chart a course for long term success,” HBO Content Chief Casey Bloys told employees via the memo. “These decisions have been extremely painful to make. We operate in an environment where we must adapt in real-time to industry and company exigencies. None of this lessens the blow of parting ways with such talented, trusted, hardworking, and celebrated teammates. I extend to each of them my deepest appreciation as they transition to their next opportunity.”
The layoffs will affect a multitude of divisions within the company, namely HBO Max’s Unscripted and Reality television department and Max Originals Non-Fiction & Live-Action Family Originals.
A Q2 2022 earnings call on August 4 confirmed that HBO Max would be combining with Discovery+ to create a new platform in an announcement that was highly anticipated.
The new platform has yet to be named and will begin a U.S.-based rollout in Summer 2023, with Latin America and European rollouts to follow in the months after.
“HBO Max has a competitive feature set but has had performance and customer issuesDiscovery+ has best-in-class performance and consumer ratings, but more limited features,” Jean-Briac Perrette, CEO and President of Discovery Streaming & International, said on the company’s earnings call. “Our combined service will focus on delivering the best of both, market-leading features with world-class performance.”
Both HBO Max and Discovery+ will begin the integration process by cross-posting content on each platform. There was no clarification or confirmation on rumored job restructurings or layoffs.
Original story below, published August 4, 2022.
HBO Max has been a fan-favorite streaming service since its inception, cultivating a loyal viewership with original series, exclusive movies, and a catalog of vintage HBO network shows for fans to enjoy over and over again.
But ahead of the company’s first earnings report since it was merged in a $43 billion deal as a part of Warner Bros. Discovery, bad news seems to be looming for the popular streaming platform.
According to multiple sources cited by The Wrap, Warner Bros. Discovery plans to lay off a startling 70% of its business, with expectations that a major restructuring and new business direction will take place specifically for HBO Max and Discovery+.
Sources say that the restructuring will “result in a gutting of HBO Max” including mass layoffs and a rumored merger between HBO Max and Discovery+ into one combined streaming service, which would mean a big cut to scripted original series on HBO Max.
The news comes after several Max Exclusive movies (released and streaming exclusively on HBO Max) were removed over the past few weeks without any announcement or explanation, including “Moonshot,” “Superintelligence,” and “Locked Down.”
This comes in tandem with Warner Bros.’s announcement that the longly-anticipated “Batgirl” movie, which was set to premiere as a Max Original, was axed for what was reported as cost-cutting.
“The decision to not release ‘Batgirl’ reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max,” a Warner Bros. spokesperson said in a statement at the time of the announcement.
The drama has created a frenzy online, where fans of HBO Max have let their feelings be known.
The crumbling of HBO Max before our eyes is infuriating. Not because we should love HBO unconditionally but because the service has easily the best library of classic shows and movies AND daring originals that never feel like they’re made by algorithms.
— Eric Francisco (@EricFrancisco24) August 3, 2022
if HBO Max really is folding into Discovery Plus and ditching all the scripted content that might be the single dumbest decision made by any corporation in the streaming age
— halloween is a demonic holiday (@thesolarcoffee) August 3, 2022
Imagine working at HBO for yearrrrsss, making award winning content, only to have the folks who brought you 90 Day Fiancé and Hardcore Pawns to tell you to get off your ass and work
— with a Y (@wyntermitchell) August 4, 2022
HBO Max is by far the best of the streamers with a great catalogue of shows and movies – not sure what the thought process here is other than corporate greed.
— Emmy Potter (@emmylanepotter) August 3, 2022
HBO Max felt like it was poised to dominate the streaming market in the not too distant future I’m so confused
— Jamie (@JayElHarris) August 3, 2022
Streamers have been selling us creatives on the virtues of platform exclusivity for some time now. The reason Hollywood is so shook by the HBO Max stories is that no one is sure whether this is an isolated incident or a canary in the coal mine. This isn’t just about a few movies.
— C. Robert Cargill (@Massawyrm) August 3, 2022
The last days of HBO Max feeling increasing likely. A true shame. If it comes to pass, an awful situation for creatives who poured their hearts and souls into projects that can just disappear on a whim.
— Richard Newby (@RICHARDLNEWBY) August 3, 2022
Ahead of knowing which shows and movies are getting axed, rumors are swirling that a possible shift away from HBO Max originals means those shows could be more likely to be on the chopping block, versus HBO originals.
Popular shows in that category that could be getting the boot include the “Gossip Girl” reboot, “Our Flag Means Death”, “Titans” and “Doom Patrol,” among others.
Max Original “Peacemaker” is safe for now, according to director James Gunn, who assured fans via Twitter that they could “calm down” about a potential cancelation alongside a photo of the show’s Season 2 set.
Warner Bros. Discovery earnings are expected to be reported on Thursday.