As Warner Bros. Discovery continues its ongoing corporate reshuffling, more and more people have started to worry about the future of the media giant.
With shows like The Gordita Chronicles, the Afro-Latina led Batgirl, and the Spanish-language docuseries Menudo: Forever Young being canceled despite their critical acclaim and fan excitement, the company's new leadership has made it clear that they are scaling back on the diverse slate of programming.
The new leadership at WBD is reshaping the company’s values to reflect what it believes the viewer wants—entertainment for "everyone." HBO Max and the viewers are caught in a hailstorm of HBO’s and WBD’s creation, and the situation is getting worse.
Since Batgirl, things have gotten worse
The ongoing cancellations and limiting diverse content that has been going on throughout August have allowed us to look closely at what is really happening at HBO.
In a statement to the Daily Beast, HBO stated, “HBO and HBO Max have always shown a commitment to diverse programming and storytellers, and always will,” highlighting diverse shows like Euphoria, Rap Sh!t, A Black Lady Sketch Show, and Los Espookys.
Unfortunately for the company, Warner Bros. Discovery contradicted this statement earlier in the month during an earnings call when he highlighted the stark demographic difference between the two streamers by saying that HBO “skews male” and Discovery “skews female.”
The difference between Discovery+ and HBO MaxCredit: Warner Bros. Discovery
Overlooking the sexism of this idea, HBO Max and Discovery+ do have very different demographics. HBO Max is popular with diverse groups, single people, and users of TikTok and Twitter, while Discovery+ caters to predominantly white, married people who use Facebook and Twitter.
A former executive described Discovery+ to the Daily Beast as a “more general audience platform that doesn't have the specificity that HBO Max was tailored to. I think Discovery is just a very 'all' audience, [they] don’t wanna make things that are political, topical, alienate Middle America—more Chip and Joanna [Gaines]."
The former executive added that David Zaslav, President and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, likely would "program Chip and Joanna all day long" if he could.
Chip and Joanna GainsCredit: Facebook/Magnolia Network
The lack of diversity at HBO
But the lack of diversity doesn’t end with the programming.
A former HBO Max executive told the Daily Beast that the streaming service has been left with few people of color to oversee its diverse slate of programming. The platform has laid off close to 70 people in a month, including the teams that oversee unscripted, kids and family, and international content.
As many as 13 people of color who were previously in charge of developing shows with diversity have been let go. A former HBO Max staffer told the Daily Beast that there are barely any non-white people left in the upper ranks of content after the layoffs started, which has “amplified that lack of diversity at HBO.”
The shift in company values
Zaslav was in charge of helping Warner Bros. emerge from its $50 billion debt by implementing new company values during the two companies’ merger. Zaslav quickly became public enemy number one as he began axing content and eliminating streaming services like CNN+, vowing to appeal to a broader audience and steer clear of “advocacy” journalism.
CNN media correspondent and host Brian Stelter, who has become a frequent target of right-wing criticism, was fired from the network to appeal to Zaslav’s plan of “reshaping the ideological perception of Warner properties.”
What that means is that Zaslav is trying to create content that appeals to the homogenous, Middle American audience that rejects liberal or highly diverse content. With a mostly white staff creating the content for WBD, Zaslav’s goal will be easier to obtain.
Sure, Zaslav is making a lot of decisions to save cost and claim a tax break for the cost associated with certain shows, but the elimination of diversity in content and the offices is harmful in the world of entertainment. Many people have fought to have their voices heard and see themselves through the media, and this merger took a lot of that away in a single month.
From the outside, it really seems like Zaslav and his team at WBD do not care about the viewer or the entertainment they are producing. From what we've seen, there is more value in numbers and profit.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Source: The Daily Beast