At the company’s earnings this morning, AT&T reported subscriber decreases for HBO. Asked about the decline during the network’s executive session at TCA, President of Programming Casey Bloys was quick to point out that the losses were for Home Box Office, which includes HBO as well as Cinemax, and it was Cinemax which had bled subscribers after being de-packaged from HBO by some MVPDs, while HBO’s subscriber base had actually expanded.
The development raises an alarm for the future of HBO’s sister network, which had long benefitted from being bundled with its famous sibling. Once known as “Skinemax” for its erotic fare, Cinemax entered original primetime programming a decade ago and a couple of years ago switched to adrenalized, action series, most of them lower-cost international co-productions like Strike Back.
Asked by Deadline about changes in the programming strategy for Cinemax shortly after he joined the company in the spring, WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer chairman Bob Greenblatt said, “I think Cinemax is going to stay what it has been. It’s a service that’s really well distributed, and I think some of the shows that have come out of there have been really great and have a distinct personality from HBO proper. I think it’s just going to continue the way it has been.”
But with Cinemax’s distribution getting significantly impaired by its de-packaging from HBO, that may change.
“It is still status quo but the environment is definitely changing,” HBO Programming President Casey Bloys told Deadline at TCA this afternoon. “It’s an ongoing discussion about what makes the most sense for Cinemax. I don’t know but obviously it doesn’t help when it’s been de-packaged.”
As for original series on Cinemax, “we will have original programming through 2020,” Bloys said. “I don’t know the answer to what the future looks like; it’s something that we are talking about.”
Is there a possibility for Cinemax to revert to being just a repurposing platform for HBO?
“Anything is possible – more programming, less programming, more movies,” Bloys said. “At this point anything is on the table.”