How Warner Squandered its Position as Industry Leader

It’s difficult to overstate the disastrous few years WBD has experienced under inept leadership. Boosting one of the most desirable film and television catalogs, the company has stumbled over every vital decision since 2020.

First, Warner Bros. was the last major studio to enter the streaming scene, launching HBO Max in May 2020 before rebranding it as Max in May 2023. Other major studios had been in the game for years: Hulu started in 2009, Paramount started operating CBS All Access in 2014, Disney+ debuted in 2019, and Peacock launched a month before HBO Max in April 2020.

Next, amid widespread theater closures related to government-imposed lockdowns, Warner Bros. dealt a heavy blow to the traditional theatrical model in 2021 by dumping its entire 17-film slate onto its struggling HBO Max streaming platform. These films were released simultaneously in limited theaters permitted to stay open in non-lockdown states.

Following several streaming missteps, Warner Bros. tossed aside one of the most recognizable brands of the last fifty years when it renamed HBO Max to simply Max. This decision will likely become a case study in marketing courses for decades, illustrating a notable failure in brand management.

Sizable Subscriber Losses Show No Sign of Slowing

WBD lost 400,000 domestic subscribers from its Max streaming service in the fourth quarter of 2023, ending with 52 million, compared to 54.6 million domestic subscribers in the same quarter a year ago.

This subscriber loss was at least an improvement from the third quarter of 2023 when WBD shocked the market by reporting a loss of 700,000 subscribers in its direct-to-consumer (DTC) segment, which includes HBO cable subscriptions and the Max and Discovery+ streaming services.

WBD’s recent follies are not just limited to severe theatrical and streaming missteps but to its cash cow. After decades of releasing the most popular series content, HBO suffered a significant blow to its live channel viewership, plummeting by 34% in 2023, marking a steep decline from the previous year.

While many cable television networks experienced a decline in viewership, HBO bore the brunt of the impact, enduring one of the most severe drops.

Despite the company’s disastrous performance in transitioning into the streaming business, horrendous content decision-making, and its stock falling over 40% in the last twelve months, its CEO remains the highest paid in media.

Source: filmtaker


PHP Code Snippets Powered By :