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No, HBO Max is not abandoning scripted content

Warner Bros. plans to merge HBO Max with discovery+, but the new service will still have scripted series in addition to reality shows.

HBO – the home of popular dramas like “Game of Thrones” and critically acclaimed comedies like “Barry” – is owned by Warner Bros. In April, Warner Bros. merged with Discovery, Inc. – which produces lifestyle and reality shows like “Property Brothers” on HGTV and “90 Day Fiancé” on TLC.

In an earnings call in August, executives from the newly formed Warner Bros. Discovery announced they planned to merge the two networks’ streaming services, HBO Max and discovery+.

That announcement prompted rumors about what changes would be made on the new platform, including viral claims that the company was “ditching all the scripted content” on HBO Max in favor of the reality shows on discovery+. But are those fears founded?

THE QUESTION

Is HBO Max abandoning scripted content?

THE SOURCES

  • Spokesperson for HBO Max
  • Recording of Aug. 4, 2022 Warner Bros. Discovery earnings presentation

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, HBO Max is not abandoning scripted content.

WHAT WE FOUND

Executives for Warner Bros. Discovery announced the decision to merge HBO Max with discovery+ during an earnings presentation to investors on Aug. 4, 2022. The call outlined several long-term strategies for the company, including their plan to compete with the likes of Netflix and Disney+ in a crowded streaming market.

“At the end of the day, putting all the content together was really the only option we saw to making this a viable business,” said JB Perrette, the company’s head of streaming.

The executives said they weren’t sure what the new combined service would be called – meaning the “HBO Max” name could die – but the presentation made it clear the plan was for a platform that continues to offer both scripted and unscripted content, not one approach outright replacing the other.

One slide, for instance, described the HBO Max and discovery+ brands as “unique and complementary,” specifically highlighting how HBO Max content is scripted and discovery+ is unscripted, and how that attracts different pools of viewers.

Credit: Warner Bros. Discovery
A slide from the Aug. 4 earnings presentation by Warner Bros. Discovery executives, outlining their plan for a combined streaming service using HBO Max and discovery+

Executives specifically addressed rumors of drastic change to HBO Max’s content on the call.

“There was some buzz today about HBO Max [that] we’re going to start doing less series…Our strategy is to embrace and support and drive the incredible success that HBO Max is having,” said Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav. “HBO Max has never been hotter. Quality is what matters… We’re doubling down on that HBO team. They’re all committed under contract, and we’re going to spend dramatically more this year and next year than we spent last year and the year before.”

Perrette added, “I think it’s important given some of the noise… [to say] that HBO and the Max Originals remain the unequivocal home of the best premium television, and it remains the centerpiece of our combined streaming platform.”

VERIFY also reached out directly to Warner Bros. Discovery, and a spokesperson for HBO Max confirmed that “rumors about scripted content being ended are completely false.”

The VERIFY team works to separate fact from fiction so that you can understand what is true and false. Please consider subscribing to our daily newsletter, text alerts and our YouTube channel. You can also follow us on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Learn More »

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