You Don’t Need to ‘Doomcast’ Worse News About HBO Than We Already Have
Today, I explain why there’s no real reason to doomcast worse news than we’ve already had about HBO.
Knowledge Waits is a feature where I just share some bit of pop culture history that interests me that doesn’t quite fit into the other features.
The recent HBO Max news sucks. It obviously sucks. Batgirl and the Scooobi sequel are canceled and being written off to save some money. Lots of people are going to lose their jobs and there will be less cool TV shows out there, as Discovery, the new owners of Warner Bros., have decided to DRAMATICALLY cut back on original scripted streaming-only programmign for HBO Max. That sucks (HBO Max’s reality shows are also going to be toast, which is probably much less of a loss, but hey, it’s still a loss). So that’s bad news. It is fine to be upset about that.
However, in the world of predicting stuff, there’s a term called “wishcasting,” which is to say you make predictions more based on what you HOPE will happen. You look at an NBA prospect and say, “If he can improve his shooting, he’ll be an All-Star.” Okay, but WILL he improve his shooting or are you just wishcasting?
Similarly, but obviously 180 degrees opposed to that concept, is what we’re seeing here, which is “doomcasting,” predicting horrible stuff for no particular reason other than you expect doom to occur, like HBO will be replaced by Discovery or there will be no more scripted shows. I think that’s not cool here, especially when the ACTUAL news is already quite bad.
What this almost certainly boils down to is not “No more scripted shows!” but rather, having to “settle” for new shows that HBO itself develops, which is still a lot of cool shows. Discovery bought HBO because it WANTED HBO. The head of HBO just got a five-year extension. Shows like Peacemaker, The Flight Attendant and Hacks that were developed by MAX will be fine, they’ll just transition to HBO proper, and shows like Somebody Somewhere wasn’t even a MAX show to begin with, ya know? So that show alone is proof that HBO proper can still do niche stuff. I’m not saying that those shows WILL officially start airing on HBO, but if they continue on MAX, they’ll be fine, either way. Hit streaming shows are still hits.
What this news hurts is the FUTURE Hacks of this world. The FUTURE Flight Attendants. Those shows are in jeopardy of not happening now (at HBO, at least), which DOES suck. It also mostly affects niche shows, which is also a shame, as niche is where some of the best stuff often occurs (and, of course, unsurprisingly, that’s also where the most diverse shows appear, so this is a very sad blow to diverse shows, which IS very sad).
For DC-related programming, Discovery knows that DC is very valuable material, they just aren’t interested in the aforementioned niche stuff and they also don’t plan on spending big money on anything that is streaming-only (and even that’s probably only for the moment).
So yes, some cool shows will likely go, like Doom Patrol, but how much longer were you expecting Doom Patrol to last anyways? Same with the Arrowverse. How long were you expecting that to keep going once The CW was sold?
There will be a ton more reality shows, true, because that’s what Discovery does, but they bought HBO because they know reality ISN’T ENOUGH. They NEED the scripted, so that’s why they bought HBO in the first place. They’re just going to be cutting costs for a while (they were only able to buy/merge with WarnerMedia in the first place because it had $55 billion in debt). Discovery Plus has 22 million subscribers. HBO Max has 76 million subscribers. Discovery is not the tail wagging the dog here.
Discover wants scripted shows. It NEED scripted shows. It just will have LESS scripted shows than before, but HBO will still be providing excellent television shows. This isn’t a time to be predicting doom beyond the already awful news we’ve gotten.
4 thoughts on “You Don’t Need to ‘Doomcast’ Worse News About HBO Than We Already Have”
Brian, I’ve heard about shows being written off for tax purposes before, but I’m not entirely sure how it works. From what I’ve gathered, it means that somebody declares a show to be non-profitable and gets a tax deduction, and they’re no longer allowed to make any money off of said show, so naturally it never gets an official release again, is that right? How often does this actually happen?
It is very rare, Tom, and it only is happening here because of the unique structure that they are in as a post-merger entity. They have a time limit as to when they can write off pre-merger projects, and that time limit is some time this month.
Also rare is a much anticipated film/TV movie/TV pilot which was canceled after a lot of buzz which STAYS buried and is never leaked somewhere. Twenty-plus years ago, comic book conventions were common places to find bootleg copies of geek related movies/TV shows/specials which got buried for one reason or another. Like “The Spirit” pilot or the Japanese animated “Tomb of Dracula” TV movie or the GEN 13 animated movie (which, like Batgirl, was fully completed before it was yanked for various legal reasons), or the Roger Corman “Fantastic Four” (also completed, then buried, for absurd financial technicalities). If this happened 20 years ago, you’d almost be assured to see someone peddling Batgirl bootlegs on DVD or VHS at the next biggest comic convention after something like this. Someone somewhere in WB would somehow get a copy.
I mean, NBC’s Wonder Woman TV pilot starring Adrienne Palicki isn’t ancient history; that was 2011. And what happened? It didn’t matter that NBC produced a whole TV movie and then buried it. Someone got a copy and shared it online (especially on YouTube). And nearly every professional online website got to review it anyway. Just because it was bootleg, NBC got zero dollars out of it. And that is always the shame of it; usually had these networks or studios just gutted it out and released the thing, in most circumstances they’d have at least broke even. And I am sure at some conventions, you can buy a copy from a bootlegger (every con has one who still sells physical media) on DVD somewhere.
I mean, not even the Supreme Court can stop a leak. Or the Pentagon. So while it is a shame to lose these shows, I am curious how long it will be before “someone” posts it online. It’s almost as inevitable as the seasons. It still is terrible news in the long and short term for HBO/HBO Max. Then again, only in America can a company acquire $55 billion in debt and still be viable and producing wealth for its executives. There are entire countries that don’t have a GDP of $55 billion.
I admit, even while the context is evident, I did get an unintended chuckle out of the line, “the FUTURE Hacks of this world.” My sarcastic reply is that so long as TV, film and comic books exist, the future hacks of this world will be fine.
It’s a fascinating question, since neither of these projects were necessarily finished, so I wonder who even has access to them? I agree, though, that it is likely that they’ll eventually get leaked.