HBO Max halts originals in select European territories

Nordics, Central Europe, Netherlands and Turkey affected as part of Warner Bros Discovery cost-saving measures

By John Elmes 5 Jul 2022

HBO Max halts originals in select European territories
Credit: Beforeigners/HBO

HBO Max is rowing back on original production in numerous European territories in further cost-saving measures as the part of the ongoing integration at Warner Bros Discovery. 

Development of local original productions has been halted in the Nordics (Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland), Central Europe, the Netherlands and Turkey, as WBD continues to work out the strategy for its flagship streamers HBO Max and Discovery+. 

Existing shows which have been greenlit, and are either in production or post-production, are also being reviewed to see whether they will head to HBO Max or whether a different licensing arrangement can be made.  

The original productions in France and Spain have been unaffected by the decision. 

Variety first reported the news of the overhaul of the European originals policy. 

Some original titles have also been pulled from HBO Max in Europe as a cost-saving venture in terms of internal accounting. Notable titles including Norwegian near-future high-concept detective show Beforeigners, Danish youth-skewing thriller Kamikaze, Swedish comedy Lust, and Hungarian period espionage drama The Informant.  

Selected US content has also been removed from the platform.  

Their removal opens up the possibility that they could be licensed to third party platforms. 

The decision comes three months after HBO Max unveiled plans to double EMEA originals, with originals head Antony Root calling on local producers for pitches, alongside his vice-presidents and commissioning editors Miguel Salvat (Spain), Christian Wikander (Nordics), Central Europe’s Johnathan Young and Vera Peltekian (France). 

Speaking at the same event, newly appointed WBD EMEA chief Priya Dogra said HBO Max is aiming to be the “home of untold stories” as part of a ramping up of local investment. 

However since the merger, new chief David Zaslav has initiated cost-saving measures to trim $3bn (£2.5bn) expenditure. Numerous execs have exited including HBO Max International chief Johannes Larcher. 

“As we continue to work on combining HBO Max and discovery+ into one global streaming service, we are reviewing our current content proposition on the existing services,” a WBD spokesman said. 

“As part of this process, we have decided to remove a limited amount of original programming from HBO Max, as well as ceasing our original programming efforts for HBO Max in the Nordics and Central Europe. We have also ceased our nascent development activities in the newer territories of Netherlands and Turkey, which had commenced over the past year. 

“Our commitment to these markets has not changed. We will continue to commission local content for Warner Bros. Discovery’s linear networks in these regions and we remain substantial acquirors of local third-party content for use on our streaming services.”  

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