Warner Bros. Discovery Picking Fight with Netflix Over "The Sandman"?

If you're like us, then you're still thrilled with the news that EP & co-writer Neil Gaiman (Good Omens); EP, co-writer & showrunner Allan Heinberg (Wonder Woman); and EP & co-writer David S. Goyer's The Sandman will be returning for a second season. But if you're also like us, you were wondering why it took around four months for a decision from the time the show premiered. The first thirty days? That definitely makes sense because that's the window of viewing data that Netflix always looks to before making a decision. If you want to add in another two weeks or so to gather numbers from delayed viewers, we can even throw that into the mix. And while it's not exactly the same as what fans of Hulu's The Orville are going through with a second-season decision (six months and counting since "New Horizons" premiered), the wait was still an eyebrow-archer considering how well it performed. Well, according to a report earlier today from Deadline Hollywood, it appears Warner Bros. Discovery head David Zaslav's reported frustration with Netflix's payment terms was further enflamed by the recent renewal of the comic book series adaptation, and may have factored into the delay in a decision.

The Sandman. Tom Sturridge as Dream in The Sandman. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2021

Though it's a practice that the streamer implemented years back, Zaslav is apparently not very thrilled that Netflix pays producers over an 18-24-month time period. That's because Zaslav is in the business of trying to clean up WBD's financial situation ahead of an HBO Max/Discovery+ streaming merger. So from his perspective, waiting nearly two years for payment on a project is too long to not have money back in the coffers. Because WBD owns Warner Bros. Television, which produces a whole lot of programming for Netflix. Aside from The Sandman, some other projects that WBTV produces include the live-action adaptation of Sweet Tooth, the Penn Badgley-starring You, and the saved-from-NBC-cancellation Manifest. And through the WBTV/The CW output deal, the streamer also licenses shows like All American, The Flash, Riverdale, and Supernatural. In DH's reporting, it's alleged that Zaslav "expressed his displeasure to a number of his key Warner Bros. Discovery colleagues over the last few weeks," adding that there were "some business consequences" coming from it (with sources saying that Zaslav ordered a "pause" on "selling finished shows to Netflix for a few weeks." It should be noted (as it is in the DH report) that before the merger with WarnerMedia, Discovery had its own issue with payments. Current Warner Bros. Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels championed a plan at the time that would've required producers to finance their shows on their own, to then be paid once the series was submitted, a plan that faced serious pushback the moment it was announced.

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Ray FlookAbout 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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