Comcast and Paramount JV To Brand Acquired HBO Shows as 'SkyShowtime Originals'

SkyShowtime Comcast ViacomCBS
(Image credit: Comcast)

Continuing to retreat from what was an aggressive expansion of the HBO brand in Europe, Warner Bros. Discovery has exclusively licensed 21 HBO shows to Comcast/Paramount joint venture SkyShowtime, where they'll be branded as "SkyShowtime Originals." (opens in new tab) 

As reported by the Penske Media showbiz trade conglomerate (opens in new tab), WBD has also laid off 29 executives as it shifts to a model whereby local linear and streaming executives on the regional level make program acquisition decisions, and streaming is de-emphasized. 

In all, WBD is selling 168 episodes and 150 hours of content to SkyShowtime, helping the JV, which is currently in 12 markets, conduct its ongoing expansion in 2023. 

Also read: Warner Bros. Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels Declares HBO Max Write-Off Purge Over, But Chastises Video Biz for Its 'Spending Frenzy'

The bounty includes three series that have finished production but have yet to run on HBO -- ID (from Finland and Sweden), The Winner (Czech Republic and Slovakia) and Warzawianka (Poland).

Other shows, including Beartown (Sweden), Beforeigners (Norway), Lust (Sweden) and The Informant (Hungary), were pulled off HBO last year for tax write-offs and savings on royalty payments. 

WBD is culminating a purge that was part of a $3.5 billion series of "synergy" cuts. The media company intends to replace its existing HBO Max and Discovery Plus subscription streaming services with a unified brand later this year. 

SkyShowtime is currently in 12 markets that don't already have either Peacock or Paramount Plus/Showtime. The JV intends to expand to 10 other markets later in the quarter -- Albania, Andorra, Czechia, Hungary, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Spain.

“This is a landmark deal for SkyShowtime, giving us an immediate foothold in the original programming space well ahead of plan,” said SkyShowtime CEO Monty Sarhan, in a statement. “As a streaming service created specifically for Europe, SkyShowtime is committed to consumers in our markets. Local programming is an important part of our strategy, and we are pleased to be the home for these new series, as well as popular shows that resonated with audiences across the Nordics, Central & Eastern Europe and Spain.” ■

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!