It is every man for himself. When WarnerMedia launches its own streaming video subscription service later this year, it is likely to retain – or regain – licensing rights to popular shows like Friends and Seinfeld that were previously licensed to rival services, says the Hollywood Reporter. AT&Ts purchase of Time Warner for $85 billion last year gives the companys entertainment division, now called Warner Media and run by Bob Greenblatt, a vast range of existing content to choose from.
The Warner Bros. library is an amazing library. Its incredible…. Its a TV production machine and will produce over 70 shows this year alone. Think about everything from Friends and Seinfeld and the Big Bang Theory. All of this TV production is owned by Warner Bros., and we will be bringing a lot of these media rights, licensing rights, back to ourselves to put on our own SVOD video product,” said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson at a conference last week.
I dont think people yet have an appreciation for what this product will bring to bear. It a luxury brand in terms of content, Stephenson added.
Netflix has licensed Friends through 2019, so the show wont be pulled from Netflix at WarnerMedias launch, but WarnerMedia could pull it back as early as 2020.
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Stephenson had previously shared his excitement about the WarnerMedia subscription service during AT&Ts April 24 earnings call.
Bob (Greenblatt) and his team’s top priority is to develop our new SVOD service. And as weve discussed, this is a service that will be centered on HBO and significantly enhanced by the Warner Bros. library, which is a very, very deep and prolific library. The closer we get to launching this service, the more excited I get, Stephenson said.
The SVOD service, which is expected to launch in the fourth quarter, will offer premium content from HBO, Warner Bros. and Turner. It will also offer three different subscription tiers. WarnerMedia will release additional details with a big reveal this fall.
We are planning a WarnerMedia Day for everybody in the September to October timeframe, and were bringing all the executive team across from WarnerMedia and we’re going to give you a detailed look at the product, and that includes the breadth of new and existing content. So just stay tuned for that and we’re making significant investments here and we think our customers are going to love this product.
Like Disney, WarnerMedia has some competitive advantages with its vast library of content. However, Stephensons enthusiasm should perhaps be tempered by AT&Ts significant debt ($40 billion to acquire Time Warner) or the fact that Game of Thrones is now over. As The Wrap points out, Game of Thrones was HBOs biggest hit ever, and it is likely to see a sizable loss in subscribers. Can WarnerMedia make up for debt or other losses just by pulling back licensing deals? It seems unlikely, at least in the short-term.