HBO has officially picked up the iconic Aaron Sorkin written drama, The West Wing for its SVOD service— previously the political series had a home on Netflix over the past few years. NBC sitcom, Friends, and the even quirky CBS sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, will also be part of HBO Max’s initial lineup which is set to launch during April 2020. Chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and direct-to-consumer, Bob Greenblatt, confirmed the news.
Greenblatt described the network as a “treasure trove of great shows” from Warners’ library and that other “thousands of titles” are further planned to be added to their current digital library to help stock the upcoming HBO Max:
“We are looking at acquiring shows but we are also mining the library we have. Warner Bros. has the best movie library in the world and the best TV library in the world. We’ll be curating that for HBO Max. To build the new platform, we’re adding new programming. We’re not taxing HBO to do anything other than what they do,” Greenblatt said. “HBO is the great brand of all time in our opinion. People know it for its excellence. This year alone has been another extraordinary year, so there’s no plans to do anything but to keep that intact. The shows are made very carefully. There’s a certain number that is comfortable and we’re increasing slightly, but nothing to be alarmed about. It’s not going to be significant.”
Following WarnerMedia’s lead, NBCUniversal also paid a hefty sum themselves— $500 million to be exact— for the hit workplace comedy, The Office, which they poached from Netflix in a deal that will allow their current IP to grow before the launch of their own streaming service. Netflix, in turn, payed the network a record $500 million for the global syndication rights to the “show about nothing,” Seinfeld.
Greenblatt also highlighted other original series the network planned on rolling out such as: Grease: Rydell High, a series spinoff of the hit 1978 musical, and “several shows in the DC universe” that will be produced by Greg Berlanti who is known for The CW’s Arrow and The Flash. He also mentioned that HBO Max will be open to buying streaming rights to other international and foreign-language produced series as well.
We’ve seen on Netflix and Amazon extraordinary shows from Israel and Russia, and we’d love to have some of those as well. [HBO will be] remain unchanged by the new platform and additional content. Real scheduling similar to linear broadcast will be a priority. Eventually the tech will catch up but we want to have a balance between the computer and the human being. We are trying to build an algorithm that is a little more personal.