HBO is set to increase the amount of original hours by around 10% in 2020, but its linear programming strategy won’t be shaken up in light of WarnerMedia anointing its forthcoming service HBO Max.
HBO content chief Casey Bloys said it will do around 160-165 hours of original programming next year, up from 150 this year. That in itself was a big rise on its previous average of around 100 hours per year, something Bloys at summer TCA today called a “big leap.”
Part of this growth was starting to air series on Monday nights for the first time with titles such as Chernobyl, which received 19 Emmy nominations, and BBC co-production Gentleman Jack.
Bloys said HBO is still “trying to figure out” next year’s total but that it was looking to do more programming to entice more subscribers and reduce churn. But he added the network wanted to ensure that the quality was still up to scratch. “My job is to be able to programming at that level where we’re not sacrificing quality,” he said.
Bloys added that he would have commissioned Chernobyl and Gentleman Jack regardless of this year’s push, and that Monday nights was not a slot designed to “burn off” programming.
“The big challenge for me and our team is to ensure that we weren’t just filling hours to fill hours. We have a lot more programming, but there’s not one show that I wouldn’t have aired one year or five years ago,” he said.
Bloys called it “flattering” that parent company WarnerMedia has called its forthcoming streaming service HBO Max, but said the move wouldn’t change the premium network’s linear strategy.
“I take it as a compliment,” Bloys said. “HBO, as it exists, will be core of any [streaming] offering and [John Stankey and Bob Greenblatt] have given us the funds to ensure that it continues to be healthy in its programming. It’s not going to change anything that HBO decides to program or how we’re going to program.”
WarnerMedia named its service HBO Max earlier this month. Earlier today, WarnerMedia revealed it has scheduled its big reveal for the service for October 29. The service is set to be rolled out in beta form by the end of the year, with a full-bodied version launching in spring 2020.
It will include full-season libraries of Friends as well as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Pretty Little Liars. HBO Max will also be the SVOD home to Warner Bros TV’s new CW shows Batwoman and Katy Keene, a spinoff of Riverdale beginning with the fall 2019 season. The two series became available after the CW parents Warner Bros and CBS this past spring opted not to renew the output deal with Netflix for past seasons of CW series.
In terms of original content, HBO Max will air a reboot of Blake Lively’s hit teen drama Gossip Girl, a second season of Doom Patrol, Dune: The Sisterhood, an animated Gremlins prequel, Kaley Cuoco’s thriller The Flight Attendant and Anna Kendrick’s rom-com Love Life. Greg Berlanti, who is locked into a rich Warner Bros deal, will be supplying four new movies for the service, and Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine will produce at least two films.
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