April 27, 2021 is supposed to be a victory day for HBO Max. To celebrate the official 1st anniversary, it has announced the reunion of the cast of Friends.
Friends is a 10 season sitcom that originally aired on NBC. It was produced by Warner Bros under the intricate TV ownership structure laid bare by the streaming era. Before being repatriated to the WarnerMedia empire TV and lent out to Netflix on a new platform named after a premium cable channel.
For the Friends catalog, WarnerMedia paid handsomely a reported $500 million. When reconvening the cast for only the 2nd time, the company spares much expense since the finale in 2004. The six leads were paid an estimated $24,038 per minute of screen time.
But for all the effort to show off a prime asset, HBO Max is already in the news and not for reasons that have anything to do with Central Perk. Last week reports came that AT&T planned to merge WarnerMedia with Discovery Inc. The deal is off a $43 billion transaction that was confirmed. Just three years after the telecommunications giant acquired Time Warner, the spinoff arrived. It was an $85 million deal. This move leads directly to the creation of the WarnerMedia label and, in turn, HBO Max.
The Discovery Inc. news is an example of a dynamic that defines HBO Max in the 1st year of existence. On the whole, HBO Max is a good offering that managed to overcome delayed start, branding issues, pandemic, and executive shuffling to deliver a solid collection of originals, archives, franchise IP.
Even now, HBO Max is on two major developments: a price adjustment and international expansion. International expansion starting with Latin America and the Caribbean late next month. A new ad-support tier that will lower the sticker price from $14.99 a month to $9.99. With these steps, HBO Max will have a future where it can compete at the global level. But what holds in the future is unclear now.