Timer Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes spoke at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference today and revealed plans to boost HBO’s programming budget in order to better compete with the likes of Netflix in today’s market.
He says like the streaming giant, the plan is to spend the revenue on original programming as opposed to library product (older shows & films):
“We have a pretty hefty budget, a couple of billion dollars. We’re not spending our programming money on library product. We’re doing original shows. … We’ve been increasing it, and we’ll keep increasing it.”
Where the money will go is hopefully towards more dramatic series. HBO’s comedy track record has been strong in recent years with the successes of “Veep,” “Silicon Valley,” “Girls,” “Ballers” and recent titles like “Insecure” and “Divorce”. On the unscripted front both John Oliver and Bill Maher’s talk shows have kept viewers tuned in, and mini-series like “The Night Of” and “The Jinx” are still well received.
In the ongoing drama series field though they’ve been hurting badly, especially with several high-profile projects they had planned stalling in development. In the network’s heyday back in 2003-2004 they had six successful series on at the same time – “The Sopranos,” “The Wire,” “Deadwood,” “Carnivale,” “Six Feet Under” and “Oz”.
In the past three years? “True Detective” soared in its first season and then crashed hard in its second, “The Leftovers” never truly broke through and “Vinyl” was a massive flop at launch. The success of “Game of Thrones” and more recently “Westworld” are keeping the network going for now, but they need more on this front – especially with both “Leftovers” finishing in 2017 and “Thrones” wrapping in 2018.
Both “The Young Pope” and “The Deuce” are slated to premiere early in 2017, can they help continue the network’s good fortunes in the wake of the success of “Westworld”?