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WBD has regained “command and control” says CFO

Warner Bros Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels used Citi’s 2023 Communications, Media & Entertainment Conference to insist that the media giant’s massive restructuring exercise is almost at an end that we “really have command and control over the business now”.

Having announced write-off charges of around $4-5bn in December 2022, he said the emphasis is now on “relaunching and building”.

Wiedenfels reinforced the growing sentiment in the TV business that leading content companies lost control of their content spending in a battle to make their mark in the new streaming landscape.

He said “we’re coming from an irrational time of overspending with limited focus on return on investment” – words that echo AMC Networks interim executive chairman James Dolan, who recently said the content monetisation model “is in disarray” while launch his own restructuring programme.

The realisation that streamer ROI is not yet as lucrative as expected has led to a wave of high-profile show cancellations in recent months. But Wiedenfels told conference attendees “we’re done with that chapter”.

WBD is expected to bring its new-look streaming offer to the global market in the next few months. Wiedenfels said it would be “a great product from a consumer-experience perspective” but didn’t add details about the scope or name of the service. Recent rumours suggest it will be called Max.

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