Now-former HBO Max executives have claimed that CEO David Zaslav’s recent cancellation of various Warner Bros. Discovery projects was done in service of moving the company away from producing divisive left-wing content in favor of entertaining the average viewer.
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This insight into Zaslav’s alleged plans were provided by the ex-HBO Max executives, all of whom had their positions eliminated as part of the cuts and spoke to the outlet under the condition of anonymity, to The Daily Beast.
Speaking to the recent scrapping of such projects as the J.J. Abrams-led animated series Batman: Caped Crusader, the family sitcom Gordita Chronicles, and most notably Batgirl, the former team members explained that rather than the loss of the works themselves or the fact that fans may not get to see something they may have been excited for, their main grievance was with with the fact that the jobs of a number of non-white executives had fallen victim to this new programming shift.
“I don’t think anyone knows just how white the staff is,” said one recently-let-go executive, while another separately speculated that these cuts left “maybe one Black woman [executive] on the HBO side. Maybe.”
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“[Zaslav’s cuts have] amplified the lack of diversity at HBO,” added yet another ex-exec. “HBO is the most homogenous part of this umbrella. Instead of trying to figure out how to integrate some of the [Max] executives into HBO, they just made this sweeping cut of three divisions: kids, family, and international.”
“A lot of Black and brown people lost their jobs,” they concluded.
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As to why these cuts were being made, as per The Daily Beast’s own recollection of their conversations with the anonymous interviewees, the “former Warner employees believe these changes are just as much about business as they are about reshaping the ideological perception of Warner properties.”
“It all points to the same end, they say: A rejection of left-wing or highly diverse content in favor of more homogenous, Middle America-friendly fare,” summarized the outlet, before attempting to infer an ulterior motive to Zaslav’s plans. “The lack of diversity in content staff might just make that goal easier.”
According to an internal comparison of WBD’s Discovery+ and HBO Max viewed by The Daily Beast, the company’s two main streaming services boast two entirely different demographics.
As per their reported data, viewers of Discovery+ skewed towards an older, white, and married viewership, many of whom drive either SUVs, minivans, or “traveling buses” and use only the most basic of social media – Facebook and Twitter – “if any” at all.
Further, this audience was almost overwhelmingly found to be “empty nesters” – parents whose children have grown-up and moved away from home – if not outright grandparents.
Conversely, HBO Max was said to have found a home amongst the more millennial minded, performing well with single members of “diverse groups” who used more visual-oriented social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram and were likely to drive hybrid cars.
“[Discovery+ is a] more general audience platform that doesn’t have the specificity that HBO Max was tailored to,” explained one executive. “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.”
“If David Zaslav had his wish, he would just program Chip and Joanna all day long,” they admitted. “There was just a massive, ‘We don’t need you. You’re not offering the things we’re focused on.’”
Concluding their interviews with The Daily Beast, the executives once again reaffirmed that their greatest loss in regards to the WBD bloodbath was not anyone’s creative vision or fan disappointment, but rather the loss of diversity among the company’s executives.
“In terms of people seeing themselves reflected, whether it’s ethnic or LGBTQ, when you have people who are diverse, the lens with which they evaluate [content] factors in things that I think my white colleagues just don’t think about,” said one of the anonymous respondents.
Another asserted, “It’s deep.”
“What are they going to do with this disproportionate amount of people of color that were let go?” they asked. “They need to replace them in some capacity. Or do they not care? That’s what we’ve been told, that they just don’t care.”
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