Streamers Are Eliminating One Specific Type Of Show And It Could Be The Nail In The Coffin Of Television
HBO Max Content CEO Casey Bloys said in an investor call that half-hour comedies are not providing a worthwhile return of investment.
With a wide array of changes impacting the media landscape over the course of the last few years, such as Netflix cracking down on account sharing, streamers have been fumbling in the dark to get their budgets in order. HBO and HBO Max Content CEO Casey Bloys has now made comments that will surely hinder the viewership of future content across the television spectrum. As reported by Comicbook.com, Bloys has stated that hour-long dramas such as The Last of Us and House of the Dragon are raking in a significantly higher return on investment than half-hour comedies, resulting in streamers looking to reduce their budgets for the entire genre.
The ongoing news following baffling studio decisions such as HBO Max removing streaming content seemingly at random and shelving finished movies is part of a saga of streamers struggling to keep up with consumer demands. Corporate mergers, financial loopholes, and budgeting concerns have led to a series of network shows unjustly losing their homes, such as the recent cancelation of Reboot on Hulu. With the news that half-hour comedies are on the chopping block, it seems likely that droves of viewers tuning into the low-commitment shows will be lost to the allure of short-form web content on the internet.
This news is a far cry from a previous era of streaming content, wherein Netflix paid millions upon millions of dollars for the streaming rights to half-hour comedies such as Friends and Seinfeld. These episodic shows, which focus on bite-sized comedy in favor of deep emotional impact, often provide comfort and background entertainment to an audience of millions of people looking to tune in and turn their brains off. Streamers may see their returns on the budgets from these shows dewindling, without realizing just how many viewers continue to subscribe only to rewatch their favorite episodes of The Office.
While many viewers find themselves drawn to auteur cinema, such as the groundbreaking viewership of HBO’s The Last of Us, which has seen continued growth within the Nielsen ratings, syndicated half-hour comedies remain the bread and butter of television audiences. Taking Casey Bloys at his word would suggest that shows such as the Big Bang Theory and Always Sunny In Philadelphia are headed for the chopping block, forcing comedy content to thrive on platforms such as Tik Tok instead of network TV. If streamers truly commit to this strategy, they will likely see a greater drop in subscriber numbers than they could have anticipated.
Of course, as Bloys notes, the arms race surrounding television has forced several series’ to mimic the success of hour-long dramas, finding shows such as Barry caught in the middle. Bloys fixated on the budget constraints of creating new half-hour comedy content, but didn’t elaborate on the streamer’s plan to acquire and host older shows in the same niche. With nostalgia acting as a driving force for many of the highest grossing half-hour comedies, perhaps the fate of the streamer isn’t sealed just yet, but without new shows to bring younger audiences to subscribe, HBO Max, Netflix, and other streamers like them may be forced to fold.