Could ‘Insecure’ becoming to Netflix? It’s possible.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Warner Bros. Discovery is actively talking with Netflix to license HBO shows — including Insecure — to the Netflix. Such a deal would be considered a stunning move for the two big-spending rivals, neither of whom immediately responded to THR’s request for comment on the potential licensing pact late Tuesday.
Should a deal close, licensed content would stream on both Netflix and the newly rebranded Max. It would become the first time that HBO’s prized original series would be available on a rival streaming platform in the U.S.
HBO has rarely licensed its originals beyond its own corporate siblings. Sex and the City, for example, was sold in syndication (with serious editing) to corporate sibling TBS (and later other basic cable networks). During Richard Plepler’s tenure as CEO, HBO licensed The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Deadwood and The Wire, among others, to Amazon as the premium cable network did not have a streaming platform of its own at the time.
Sources say HBO insiders pushed back against the idea of licensing HBO fare to rival Netflix but ultimately, sources say, finance execs at Warner Bros. Discovery won over. Such a licensing deal would prove beneficial to HBO as its prized titles could be exposed to a whole new audience. It would also help improve WBD’s bottom line. After Discovery took control of the former WarnerMedia, the combined company ended the most recent first quarter with nearly $50 billion in debt. Layoffs continued at WBD on Tuesday, with the longtime head of TCM among those impacted by the latest round of layoffs at the David Zaslav-led conglomerate.
As part of WBD’s cost-cutting efforts, the company has pulled a number of underperforming HBO titles from Max and has licensed many of them — including the pricey Westworld — to free ad-supported streamers in a bid to recuperate some of the lost revenue.
While it’s still considered a shock that HBO titles could appear on Netflix, such a move is not unprecedented. Just a few years ago, Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish licensed a number of his company’s streaming hits across the landscape in a bid to better expose them to a larger audience. South Park, for example, was sold to Max, which also shared Rick and Morty with Hulu. The then-ViacomCBS also licensed Yellowstone to Peacock in an exclusive deal Bakish later came to regret.
These streaming services don’t know what to do with themselves. Between rebranding and shows hopping from service to service — we can’t keep up.