American media and entertainment conglomerate WarnerMedia, has decided to pull out HBO and WB TV channels from the South Asian region that includes India, Pakistan, Maldives, and Bangladesh starting December 15, 2020. The company cites the struggles brought by the COVID-19 pandemic to its business model in the region as the reason to stop broadcasting these channels.
Siddharth Jain, SVP and Managing Director of WarnerMedia South Asia region said, “After 20 years of successes for the HBO linear movie channel in South Asia and more than a decade with the WB linear movie channel, this was a difficult decision to make. The pay-TV industry landscape and the market dynamics have shifted dramatically, and the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for further change.”
However, WarnerMedia will continue to broadcast kids’ channels, Cartoon Network and Pogo in the region. The company expressed interest to further invest in producing local animation shows. It will also continue to distribute CNN International in the region and has redirected its employees based in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru to handle the operations, sales and marketing of kids channels and distribution of CNN International in South Asia.
Earlier this year, WarnerMedia had warned about its position in India. Gerhard Zeiler, head of WarnerMedia International said at the APOS Summit 2020, “In India, we don’t have the scale that we want and where we have to be. We have our work cut out in the market. But you will hear more about HBO Max in the next months or next year. It’s going to be our workhorse going forward.”
Siddharth Jain added that he is thankful to the fans and the partners for making the two channels a household name in the region. He added that the employees have worked really hard to achieve the feat that HBO and WB TV have got in the South Asia region.
However, I am not too sure about the “household name” part, since HBO and WB TV have profusely failed in keeping up with the likes of Star Movies, Star World, Sony Pix and Movies Now. HBO did have some great content under its belt like ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Last Week Tonight With John Oliver’, but it wasn’t enough to match its competitors in the region.
As of now, HBO will continue to stream its content on Disney+Hotstar as part of its partnership with the streaming service. Hotstar offers almost all of the content produced by HBO such as ‘Game of Thrones’, ‘Chernobyl’ and ”Last Week Tonight With John Oliver’.
Siddarth Jain added, “WarnerMedia has a strong interest in India and is committed to assessing optimal opportunities to serve valued customers here.”