The news: Before it had the chance to share its Q2 results Thursday, HBO Max and parent company Warner Bros. Discovery were the subject of widespread criticism from consumers worried about the service’s new direction.
HBO’s drama: Prompted by the sudden cancellation of the (nearly completed) “Batgirl” film, fans worried about the future of HBO Max after discovering the streamer had been quietly removing shows and films for over a month.
Slasher film: There’s a simple explanation for the dramatic changes: Warner Bros. Discovery is under an intense debt load and CEO David Zaslav needs to find ways to cut costs.
Cutting costs has a cost: Dramatic negative responses on social media should make it clear that HBO Max is regarded highly by many consumers. Zaslav’s methods may be effective at saving money, but they could alienate users and tarnish HBO’s hard-earned reputation.
The big takeaway: A distinct reputation for high-quality originals is crucial as uncertain economic times push consumers to cut video streaming costs. Warner Media has a mountain of debt to summit, but doing so at the cost of HBO’s reputation could harm its long-term growth.
This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Marketing & Advertising Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the advertising industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.