Warner is the third largest commissioner of new titles among US cable groups, behind only Discovery and Viacom CBS, and second in the US scripted space, according to a report by Ampere Analysis.
But Warner is making significant strategic adjustments ahead of the launch of HBO Max this May, diverting resources from its cable networks and investing instead in a rapidly growing number of HBO Max original commissions.
By Q4 2019, streaming commissions 73% of WarnerMedia TV projects
In Q4 2019, just over one quarter of the WarnerMedia’s commissioning activity was from its cable networks, down from over 90 per cent in Q4 2018. The rapid change illustrates the relegation of Warner’s cable networks to second place behind the strategically important streaming services.
Streaming has grown from 7 per cent of commissions in Q4 2018 to 73 per cent in Q4 2019. H2 2019 saw the most noticeable change as the clock began to tick down to the launch of HBO Max in May this year.
Warner’s overall content investment ratchets up, as cable network commissions slide
Warner’s cable properties were a top five US cable network commissioner in each quarter of 2019. However, during the year, the number of cable commissions declined each quarter as activity was ramped up at HBO Max. Cable commissions were down 37 per cent in Q4 2019 versus Q4 2018.
But Warner is stepping up overall investment in new content. Commissioning activity for Warner’s streaming channels (HBO Max and DC Universe) matched its cable networks for the first time in August 2019 – at four apiece.
Overall, Warner is investing heavily in content. The company made more than double the number of commissions in Q4 2019 (63 titles) as it did in Q4 2018 (29 titles). Warner was also the largest cable commissioner of scripted Comedy and second largest cable commissioner of Documentaries in 2019.