Warner Bros. Takeaway Discovery 2023: Zaslav sits out, talent shifts from stage to stage, and Max is the real star

Warner Bros. started. Discovery kicked off its 2023 presentation in no-frills fashion, with president of advertising and branding John Steinloff making some remarks onstage at Madison Square Garden Wednesday.

While the presentation covering HBO, Max, CNN, Food Network, HGTV, Discovery and more Warner Bros. brands. Discovery was shorter than last year’s presentation (which was the company’s first since the merger that created it last April), the presentation was a narrow 90 minutes that still covered each of its major sections. Albeit, with much less hype, with no stars amidst the book strike.

“Let me start by saying I hope a fair solution can be found soon with the writers,” said Casey Bloys, president of HBO and Max, adding that he hopes talent will return to the stage, “which makes this a more enjoyable show” compared to “Me and the Clips.” my video.”

be seen diverseThe biggest takeaway from Warner Bros. Discovery 2023 in advance below.

No talent, only bosses

like diverse Reportedly earlier this week, the talent was not expected to appear in person at the advertiser-focused event due to the writers’ strike. Head of advertising John Steinloff confirmed that this would be the case at the top of the show, stating that this up front was “not exactly the show we expected today”.

“We made the decision to only have executives on stage out of respect for our talent and the WGA,” said Steinlauf. Outside, WGA members were picketing to raise awareness of the strike and the union’s inability to reach a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

Besides Steinlauf, in attendance were WBD executives Zaslav, President of Broadcasting JB Perrette, CNN Leader Chris Licht, Director of Revenue and Strategy Bruce Campbell, American Networks Chairman Kathleen Finch, HBO President and Max Casey Bloys, Ad Sales and Inclusion Executive Shereen Russell, and WBD Sports President Louis Silberwasser.

Talents featured in the pre-recorded segments included Jason Momoa, Guy Fieri, Anderson Cooper, Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal, Mindy Kaling, Robin Thiedy, Dwayne Wade, Aaron Sanchez, Taylor Rocks, Kimmy, and Morris. Scott and Sky Townsend and Darnell Ferguson.

Unlike NBCCU’s taped interviews with creators and talent shown on the Monday upfront (which included a disclaimer stating it was filmed in April, before the strike) there was no indication of when those spots would be completed.

Mega Max Talk

Ahead of its launch on May 23, WBD’s HBO Max-Discovery+ producer, Max, was top of mind during the show. Almost every buzz that played and every CEO who took the stage boasted about how much WBD content would be represented on the new platform.

Like its predecessors HBO Max and Discovery+ (the latter will remain a standalone service), Max will have an ad-supported tier, which shows the many plugs in front of an audience full of buyers.

However, the focus has remained on Max as a producer, rather than big programming news — a slew of such announcements were made last month in a livestream-focused presentation revealing the platform’s address. The Bloys had the opportunity to reveal when “And Just Like That…” Season 2 premiere (June 22) took place on stage.

“Max will be the only service unparalleled in terms of breadth and genre defining content in every category,” said JB Perrett, President of Broadcasting.

CNN and sports filling time

CNN president Chris Licht spoke about the news, and sports executive Louis Silberwasser encouraged sports ahead of packages showcasing their key talents.

“Our core commitment is to communicate the news honestly and transparently, without fear or favour,” Licht said. “It’s what helps us win the day with a younger, more educated, wealthier and more diverse audience.” Then he used a plug for a new onscreen look and graphics package coming to CNN next month to introduce his star, “I think you can see it’s a huge improvement. It’s clean, modern and easy to look at. Just like Anderson Cooper.”

Cooper took over in a taped video featuring his new CNN primetime host Caitlan Collins. Then the sport picked up, and WBD got its own halftime report from the NBA on TNT’s team: Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal.

Big names with unscripted projects

Several titles starring A-list talent were revealed throughout the show, including two new Food Network series hosted by Selena Gomez, a “Shark Week” collaboration with “Aquaman” Jason Momoa and an ID deal with Michael Bay.

In a more unexpected announcement, Discovery has announced a collaboration with Ellen DeGeneres on a series about saving gorillas, the comedian’s first venture since wrapping up her long-running talk show in the wake of accusations of employee abuse.

Zaslav stays out of the spotlight

Warner Bros. offered Discovery only executives on stage — except for one key executive: CEO David Zaslav. While all of Zaslav’s top lieutenants got up to talk about their brands and jobs, and his presence in the room was confirmed, Zaslav didn’t address the crowd himself.

As the CEO of a major Hollywood corporation, Zaslav — who spent some time onstage during WBD in 2022 up front — was called out by name on the WGA banners alongside the likes of Disney’s Bob Iger and Netflix’s Ted Sarandos amid the ongoing strike.

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