Warner Bros. Discovery: Content Write-Offs May Go $1B Over Estimate, HBO Max Content Pulled For FAST Licensing

After announcing more content pullbacks earlier this week — including that it would pull all four existing seasons of the popular series “Westworld” off of HBO Max — Warner Bros. Discovery has now revealed plans to license “Westworld” and other content to third-party free, ad-supported streaming services (FASTs).

WBD last month announced that it intends to launch its own FAST sometime in 2023. "As a company with the largest film and TV library in the industry, we have a unique opportunity to increase our addressable market and drive real value, and we plan to move quickly,” CEO David Zaslav said during WBD's Q3 earnings call.

In addition to “Westworld” — which was cancelled by WBD earlier this year, along with HBO Max’s “Minx” and HBO’s “The Nevers” — shows being pulled from HBO/HBO Max in favor of licensing deals include “The Nevers,” “FBoy Island,” “Raised by Wolves,” “Legendary,” “Finding Magic Mike,” “Head of the Class” and “Time Traveler’s Wife.”

Other series being pulled that are not owned by WBD will also get new homes through deals negotiated by the studios that own them, WBD said. These include “Minx” and “Love Life” (Lionsgate), “Gordita Chronicles” (Sony Pictures), “Made for Love” (Paramount), and “The Garcias” (ViacomCBS).

In other WBD news, the company now estimates that content impairment and development write-off charges associated with the merger of Discovery and WarnerMedia could reach $3.5 billion, or $1 billion more than estimated in its previous disclosure of “restructuring and transformation initiatives” in October.

The update, in a Security & Exchange Commission filing on Wednesday, says WBD now expects total pre-tax restructuring charges to come to between $4.1 billion and $5.3 billion — including $3.2 billion to $3.5 billion in content write-offs — versus its previous estimate of $3.2 billion to $4.3 billion.

While the company did not revise other restructuring cost estimates at this time, it noted that that additional impairments could accrue as the process continues.  

Zaslav last month said that the company has increased its total targeted post-merger cost savings over three years from $3 billion to $3.5 billion.

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