Programming on HBO Max, which will scale to 88 series across HBO and Max Originals, will be marked by a one-episode-at-a-time release strategy, the streaming service’s content chief Kevin Reilly affirmed Tuesday.
Speaking to Wall Street analysts and the media during WarnerMedia’s investor day Tuesday, the executive — who has challenged customs before, famously declaring pilot season to be dead while running Fox — made his case against automatic binges.
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The arrival of Max Originals will more than double the portfolio of originals on HBO, he said, with 69 shows landing in 2020 when HBO Max launches. That’s “a volume where we can entice all audiences,” Reilly said, but the company has taken close notes on the rest of the landscape and factored it into its dealings with the creative community.
The streaming service’s rollout strategy “will largely mirror the HBO release pattern,” he said. “We like creating cultural impact and nurturing great value from our IP. Our creators also see the value in rolling out shows gradually and letting them breathe. HBO hits like Succession and Chernobyl became part of the zeitgeist with a weekly release schedule rather than fading quickly after a binge-and-burn. We know people love to binge, and on HBO Max you can binge previous series and library content to your heart’s content.”
Interestingly, many of the most recent streaming launches similarly are hewing to the tried-and-true, coming-up-next-week model, among them Disney+ and AppleTV+. Amazon and Hulu have staggered certain releases, and even binge king Netflix has started to parcel out weekly unscripted series a single installment at a time.
NBCUniversal, whose advertising-supported service called Peacock launches in April, hasn’t yet taken a firm public stance on release methods.