WBD Shock for NZ Operation


Warner Bros. Discovery NZ is proposing to shut down its news services and axe local productions that aren’t publicly funded.

If implemented, the strategy would turn Three into a news-and-currents affairs-free network without signature shows like Dancing With the Stars and The Block NZ.

Here’s the media release:

WARNER BROS. DISCOVERY ANNOUNCES PROPOSAL TO REMODEL ANZ FREE-TO-AIR BUSINESS IN NEW ZEALAND 

AUCKLAND – 28 February 2024 – Warner Bros. Discovery has today commenced consultation on a proposed remodelling and restructure of its ANZ free-to-air business in New Zealand.

The proposal includes the closure of all Newshub’s multiplatform news operations and output, and new local programming would only be in collaboration with local funding bodies and other partners.

James Gibbons, President, Asia Pacific, Warner Bros. Discovery says this is not a proposal the business arrived at easily.

“We are acutely aware of our position in the local media landscape and what this means for our people, and for the country as a whole.

“There was no single trigger that caused this, rather it was a combination of negative events in New Zealand and globally. The impacts of the economic downturn have been severe, and the bounce back has not materialised as expected.

“Advertising revenue in New Zealand has disappeared far more quickly than our ability to manage this reduction, and to drive the business to profitability.

“Everyone can see that the media sector, here in New Zealand, and around the world is facing some very tough circumstances. While Warner Bros. Discovery is a large global media company, each business is managed on its ability to sustain itself within the market it operates in. Subsidising losses for ongoing years indefinitely is not sustainable.

“The proposal is a result of a review of our New Zealand business, and while we didn’t come to it easily, it is one that we believe would be financially sustainable for the long-term.

“It is the people that make this company the beloved part of the New Zealand landscape. This consultation process is not easy, and we will be doing everything we can to support our teams.”

The proposed new model that we are consulting on reflects the ambition to transition the operations to a digitally led business.

If implemented as proposed, ThreeNow would be at the core of the model, supported by free-to-air linear channels.

It is proposed that ThreeNow and Three’s offering would feature local programming in conjunction with funding partners, acquisitions across drama, comedy, sport, reality and factual, and key titles from Warner Bros. Discovery’s extensive library.

Bravo, Eden, Rush and HGTV would continue in their current form with the same content slate.

Glen Kyne, Senior Vice President, Head of Networks, Warner Bros. Discovery ANZ, said this is a hard day for everyone who works for Warner Bros. D ANZ and the country.

“Everybody who works for Warner Bros. Discovery ANZ has done everything we could have asked. This proposal is not a reflection of these efforts.”

“Every time we think we’ve landed on stable footing, something comes along and makes it unstable again, forcing us to look at ways of further reducing costs. We’ve now reached a stage where any further reduction in costs means proposing major changes.

“This is why we are proposing to shut down the newsroom. This would mean stopping all news production including the Newshub website from June 30.

“If implemented, the proposal would be a significant change to our New Zealand operations. Warner Bros. Discovery would be committed to retaining a local presence, albeit with a much smaller operating model and lower cost base.

“We know that Newshub has been such an important and central part of TV3 since day one, and is a crucial part of a functioning media sector in New Zealand.

“We also know that New Zealanders have come to love our local shows, from Dancing with the Stars, to The Block NZ, to Black Coast Vanishings. 

“Free-to-air and news are expensive businesses to run. Put simply, the economic headwinds means the returns are not there. These proposed changes will be hard if they are implemented, but we think they are necessary, which is why we have commenced consultation.”

The consultation process runs until mid-March. A final decision is expected early April once feedback has been carefully considered. If this proposed model went ahead, the changes would not take effect until after 30 June 2024.

All other Warner Bros. Discovery ANZ operations are not part of this consultation, including Theatrical Production and Distribution, Content Licensing, Affiliate Partnerships for Pay TV Channels, and independent local production business, WBITVP NZ.

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9 Responses to “WBD Shock for NZ Operation”

  1. When you consider that ThreeNow has the same weekly audience reach of Amazon Prime (and 40% of TVNZ+) then this move feels like a huge gamble by WBDNZ. Almost a last throw of the dice. So much for the FAST strategy.

  2. And to add insult to injury – the 2nd highest reach for TVNZ+ is 1News at Six. The highest streamed content for TVNZ+? You guessed it 1News at Six. Back to the old adage – the best lead in for 6pm News is – 5.30pm News. Bad strategic choice – should be investing in local news (the differentiator to other content platforms) rather than abandoning it.

  3. I’m in total shock about this proposal. A massive loss for local news and competition for TVNZ. Surely there is a way to save Newshub.

  4. I doubt it, Leo. If Three, under various owners, couldn’t consistently challenge TVNZ in the news ratings when FTA TV was king, what chance now in a brutally fragmented, advertising-decimated market where global broadcasters are all adopting a digital-first strategy? You might have thought WBD had deep enough pockets to withstand the unprecedented turbulence, and given how Hollywood has successfully manipulated previous governments, you could suspect some of this was brinkmanship — but this Government is too busy trying to balance its own books and already has too much skin in the game with its TVNZ stake.

  5. What a shock but still I wonder if this means we will get get MAX sooner 🤔

  6. It wouldn’t surprise me to see WBD exit the market entirely rather than keep pumping away a low energy, foreign reality filled Three.
    Sell it off to Sky or something…can’t see Max launching here either – not worth the investment. Neon probably the winner out of this.

  7. Even with the new government and what was said today, I wouldn’t bet against TVNZ 3 … Hopefully a third party does buy the news department though, as state-owned news isn’t very desirable, monopoly state-owned should be feared. The market wasn’t big enough for AMC, we haven’t got half of the streaming services that are global, so I believe there’s no hope in hell that Max will launch here. Disney and Paramount are losing subscribers by the millions, Hulu only added 1m. The only winner seems to be Netflix, I expect them to come out on top.

  8. I notice on Apple TV that the ThreeNow app is number 1 in the app store. I actually think ThreeNow will take over from Three sometime in the future, it makes a lot of sense 🤔

  9. You make some fair and accurate observations over the last few decades for 3News/Newshub. They have consistently tried to over come their cross town rivals and had some successes along the way but that is insignificant now with the reaper knocking at the door. It’s a massive loss for the local TV industry, we hold out hope for a rescue package but it does seem futile.

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