WarnerMedia’s forthcoming streaming service will bring together its “treasure trove” of 42,000 hours of content from HBO as well as brands such as DC, Looney Tunes, Turner, The CW and CNN after Kevin Reilly for the first time lifted the lid on the content that will fuel the platform.
Reilly discussed Monday at the TCA winter press tour how the service, announced in October, will bring together brands like Bugs Bunny, Scooby Doo, The Lego Movie, The Flash, RBG and The Alienist with movies including The Lord of the Rings, The Hangover and Casablanca.
He also warned that “crown jewels” and “destination assets” such as Friends would likely be on the service – a threat to Netflix, which recently renewed its deal to acquire the comedy.
Reilly, the president of TBS and TNT and chief creative officer for Turner Entertainment, who took over leadership of the direct-to-consumer service in December, confirmed that HBO content will be available in the service and also laid out a timetable for original commissioning. Sarah Aubrey, who was promoted to Head of Original Content for the platform last month, will begin commissioning this spring.
“It will not all come from within WarnerMedia [but] as is the case with every business today, we’ll look at ourselves first,” Reilly said Monday. “Our beta version of the service will not have original content on it but you’ll see that in 2020 and then ramping up. You can expect it to be in all verticals that we’ve identified here: kids and family, teens, young adults and adult category.”
Reilly also added that there would be more original DC content on the service.
Separately, he said he wants to offer a “clean user experience with a more personalized feel” to help consumers in “what feels like an overwhelming environment.”
He did not reveal pricing but said that HBO customers will be able to keep a stand-alone HBO service or buy into the combined service. “When they are offered together, they will be a seamless consumer experience, so you’re not going to have to toggle back and forth,” he added.
The former Fox exec also added that while it would be competing with the likes of Netflix and Disney, the streaming future was not a “zero sum game.” Although it does not currently have a name, he joked he would be holding a contest for its moniker.
News of WarnerMedia’s streaming plans emerged in October when CEO John Stankey revealed that the service would launch in the fourth quarter of 2019. The plans are some of the first meat on the bone of the as-yet-untitled service which will use a “two-sided” model blending subscription and ad-supported elements.
In November, AT&T boss Randall Stephenson told analysts in a presentation that the service will include three levels: an entry-level movie-focused package; a premium service with original programming and blockbuster movies; and a third bundling content from the first two plus an extensive library of WarnerMedia and licensed content.
Reilly is the latest high-profile TV exec to use his TCA appearance to tout streaming plans. Earlier today, Hulu content chief Craig Erwich said that Hulu is a “very important strategic asset for our owners”, while earlier this week, Epix launched Epix Now and Discovery founder John Hendricks talked up Curiosity Stream, while the CW president Mark Pedowitz highlighted the strong digital performance of its youth-skewing series.