Warner Bros. Discovery Talks Synergies, Scale, and Live in IBC Keynote
One of the biggest media stories of the year is the merger of Discovery and Warner Brothers in a $40bn behemoth uniting Eurosport and Discovery with HBO, CNN, and Warner’s film division.
“We want to be whatever we wish to be in the content landscape,” said Dave Duvall, Chief Information Officer - Warner Bros. Discovery in a keynote at the IBC media and entertainment technology trade show in Amsterdam. “Our ambition is not limited by resource. Now its about product market fit with our D2C business and scale is a big driver.”
Warner Bros CIO Dave Duvall was conversation with Rob Ambrose, Co-founder - Caretta Research at an IBC 2022 keynote
Duvall’s remit is to lead ways to streamline the combined companies and strip duplicate processes out of the business.
“It’s a tiered plan of attack. We will start by tackling opportunities in standardisation. There are more than 850 distributed linear feeds in the combined portfolio evenly balanced between the two legacy companies. Playout technologies is an area we are pushing to standardize and align.
There are collaboration synergies-–as simple as how documents are shared across the companies.
“In places where we duplicate we need to rationalize, there’s no sense having different tech stacks or teams. We want to eliminate that and centralize where it makes sense.”
He added: “We are focussed on providing core services at scale that are common to all production teams that work with us such as security, language and versioning and post.
From an innovation perspective, live is a big focus for Warner Bros Discovery. Duvall said the biggest challenge with live was needing to produce more content in support of the digital experience. “It’s not just linear output; it’s the every-minute-of-every-match promise. The volumetrics of how we do that, with more software and more capability. Live is very intensive from a human capital perspective. HBO Max has very limited live but its efficiency versus that of Eurosport is night and day.
“With BT Sport [pending confirmation of the joint venture with the UK payTV broadcaster], Turner Sports, Eurosport and CNN Live we have no shortage of best practices we can choose from. So we’re not concerned about whether we can do it. But there is a challenge about managing content into a single operational stack and that’s where we’re focussed.
He hinted that the group would look to do more live in the public cloud. “We can support remote post and remote production and remote live. Still to be solved is true end to end cloud native live production. There are exciting and solid proof points we have seen but now we’ve got to figure out how to do that at scale. We have a private cloud consolidated back office that supports all sports production in Europe. That investment needs to be sweated. The next-generation will likely be public cloud.”
The ambition and opportunity to merge the complementary part of the business (news and sports brands) is clear. “Now we’re figuring out how to engineer an amazing content company,” Duvall said. “We are bringing together one team and one company and gain understanding about combined businesses.
“Right now we’re trying to deleverage the post deal debt whilst balancing that by continuing to make a great place to work for creatives.”
Data is worth its weight in gold to digital service providers who can mine it effectively. Power that data extraction with AI and ML and it will drive personalized content recommendations, and improved search and discovery to help differentiate a service and stem churn. This was a major topic across the IBC showfloor in Amsterdam this week.
As of summer 2023 for US customers, the two apps will be one consolidated service, with both an "ad-lite" and an ad-free version becoming available. A LatAm expansion follows, and the European market launch is in 2024.