HBO Max/WBD/DCU Update: The Good, The Bad & Casey Bloys: BCTVDD

So after weeks of rumors, innuendos, accusations, and some downright "Red Wedding"-like predictions, President & CEO David Zaslav and his Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) held their all-important 2Q financial earnings call. And when the dust settled, Harley Quinn, Titans, Doom Patrol, Peacemaker, and other shows within the DCU found themselves… in exactly the same position they were in before the earnings call. So before we take a look at today's BCTV Daily Dispatch, let's jump into some takeaways from the call and what they could mean… the good and the bad. And why folks should get to know HBO & HBO Max Chief Content Officer Casey Bloys because they're going to be hearing that name a lot more moving forward.

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Image: HBO Max/Warner Bros. Discovery & Screencap

THE GOOD: People got to keep their jobs… at least for now. Considering the chatter within the industry this week leading up to the earnings call, a lot of folks were preparing to lose their jobs. We can't lose sight of that. Because as much fun as it feels to discuss these things from a distance (and it is fun), we need to always pause and remember that there is a shitload of livelihoods at play when decisions like these are made.

THE GOOD: Zaslav heard what was being said out there. Apparently, the social media buzz reached Zaslav, who made it a point of emphasizing its commitment to HBO and HBO Max's original content. And it sounds like WBD is willing to put money-to-mouth: "We're going to spend dramatically more this year and next year than we spent last year and the year before."

Addressing the growing social media rumors that the streamer would see its programming slate cut dramatically: "There was some buzz today about HBO Max [that] we're going to start doing less series, and our strategy is to embrace and support and then drive the incredible success that HBO Max is having. It's really to the culture and the taste of Casey [Bloys] and the team and the fact that they not only read the scripts, but they fight with all the creatives to make the content and storytelling as strong as possible. It's at a very unique moment. We think it's an extraordinary asset, an extraordinary advantage."

Heading into next summer's merger between HBO Max and Discovery+, early reports are that WBD isn't looking to make any dramatic changes to its Originals strategy or line-up beyond how operations had already been functioning (except in a few areas that we'll get to in a minute).

THE GOOD: So there's a DCU plan… As much as some folks are thumbing their nose at yet another "DC 10-year-plan," isn't that exactly what the DCU needs? And points to Zaslav for openly admitting to what works and giving credit where credit is due when he name-dropped Disney & Marvel Studios' Kevin Feige and what they did to make the MCU a success. Billing WBD as a defender of the DC brand, Zaslav got our attention with the "team with a 10-year plan focusing just on DC" line. Why? Because wouldn't that be things for folks like James Gunn, Ava DuVernay, or Damon Lindelof (still pushing my selfish "Watchmen" agenda) to be a part of and have a say in? On the opposite end, JJ Abrams and Greg Berlanti need to have some impressive stuff to show if they want "Justice League Dark," Constantine, Madame X, Green Lantern, or DC's Strange Adventures to be a part of that. But that "reset" train may have already sailed…

"Our ambition is to bring Warners back and to produce great high-quality films, and as we look at the opportunities that we have broadly, DC is one of the top of the list for us. You look at Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman — these are brands that are known everywhere in the world. The ability to drive those all over the world with great story is a big opportunity for us. We have done a reset. We've restructured the business. We're going to focus."

There will be a team with a 10-year plan focusing just on DC. It's very similar to the structure that Alan Horn and Bob Iger put together, very effectively. We think that we could build a long-term much stronger, sustainable growth business out of DC. And as part of that, we're going to focus on quality. We're not going to release any film before it's ready. We're not going to release a film to make a quarter. We're not going to release a film unless the focus is going to be, 'How do we make each of these films in general as good as possible?' But DC is something that we think we could make better and we're focused on it now. We have some great DC films coming up — Black Adam, Shazam, and Flash – and we're working on all of those. We're very excited about them."

THE BAD: For family-friendly & animated content, the news ain't good. Along with straight-to-streaming films (as we saw with Batgirl), WBD has been targeting kids/family live-action & animation content for cost-saving measures. While that should help Harley Quinn fans sleep a little better for now and help calm the nerves of Young Justice fans a bit (though keeping the streaming numbers strong for both is essential), that's not a good sign for Batman: Caped Crusader, My Adventures With Superman, Legion Of Super-Heroes & Batwheels.

Image: Warner Bros. Discovery

THE BAD: WTF with that slide?! First? The slide above should've never been included. Second? If you are going to include it, this was possibly the worst way to do it (and the speaker did exactly help the matter). If you have data showing how the demos break down and you want to present them as "the demos of who streams HBO Max is this…," then you must offer what your data source was, how it was gathered, and a link for someone to learn more about what went into the fact-gathering. You do not strip it down to "Male Skew" and "Female Skew" because (rightfully so) it pisses people off who enjoy those streamers but don't fit that generic labeling. This slide made folks feel excluded and overlooked, and it doesn't matter if that wasn't what was intended. It was how it was perceived… and we all know perception can kill you before the truth has a chance to save you.

THE AGE OF BLOYS: While Zaslav will always have final say when it comes to WBD, if you don't know who HBO & HBO Max Chief Content Officer Casey Bloys is, then we suggest you get to know him real quick because that's a name we're going to be hearing a lot more from. "Quality is what matters. Quality is what Casey [Bloys] and that team is delivering. It's the best team in the business," Zaslav explained. The President & CEO sounded excited about Bloys and his team getting to work on the WBD's new vision, adding, "The majority of the people on Casey's team have been locked up, Casey is here for the next five years, and we hope longer. He's truly a unicorn, his ability to relate to talent, to make content better, [and] his leadership. And you see it in what's been coming out of HBO, and how it's affecting the culture and what people were talking about."

The important part of that? Bloys has a five-year deal which means Zaslav is putting a serious amount of faith in him. And it's clear that it's much more than words, with Bloys reportedly hand-picking a team that WBD has made a point of locking up for the CCO. That means Bloys is now the face of HBO and HBO Max scripted content moving forward, successes and failures. But combine Bloys experience (the line-up of award-winning, critically-acclaimed & beloved series under his run is pretty impressive) with Zaslav's serious faith in his "unicorn" skills, and it would be safe to say that Bloys is in a pretty strong position moving forward. And speaking of Bloys and Lindelof…

Now here's a look at today's BCTV Daily Dispatch, a rundown of what we covered over the past 24 hours:

The Sandman: Gaiman on Johanna Constantine, "American Gods" Difference

Warner Bros. Discovery Planning to Spend More, Not Less on HBO Max

AEW Dynamite Tops Wednesday Cable Ratings; See Highlights Here

Night Court Star Melissa Rauch Feeds Our Social Media Update Cravings

Rick and Morty, Run The Jewels & More: Adult Swim Block Party Schedule

Archer Season 13 Official Trailer: Everyone Wants to Be The Leader

Moxley on QT Marshall: Guy That Used to Wet Wipe Cody Rhodes' ***hole

She-Hulk Official Teaser: "Balance" Isn't So Easy When You're A Hulk

The Devil in the White City: Keanu Reeves Joins Hulu Series Adaptation

Outlander: Blood of My Blood- STARZ Prequel Series Writers' Room Open

Mike Judge's Beavis and Butt-Head Premiere Free So Grab Your Nachos!

The Lord of the Rings: TROP Star Morfydd Clark, Colbert Share Preview

What We Do in the Shadows S04E05 "Private School" Embraces Family

Andor: Don't Expect to See Rogue One's K-2SO Any Time Soon

Selena Gomez Dishes A New "Chef" Season on HBO Max This Month

House of the Dragon Will Not Depict Sexual Violence: Writer/EP Hess

Peacemaker Might Be Safe But Are HBO Max's Other DCU Shows? BCTVDD

Here's a look at today's BCTV Daily Dispatch "Long-Distance Dedication": Everclear with "One Hit Wonder":

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Image: Peacemaker Peacemaker Peacemaker Peacemaker Peacemaker Peacemaker Peacemaker Peacemaker Peacemaker Peacemaker

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About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.
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