Warner Bros. Discovery Cuts Scripted Programming Development at TBS, TNT
Snowpiercer (Courtesy of David Bukach)
TNT and TBS are pausing their scripted game under new parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, which CEO David Zaslav has promised he will find $3 billion in cost savings across the new company in the post-merger era, Variety has learned exclusively.
The WarnerMedia-run cable channels is no longer developing new scripted content, three sources close to the matter tell Variety. According to one insider, Warner Bros. Discovery leadership is currently evaluating the strategy for all of the so-called “TNets” — including truTV, which are run by Brett Weitz — and will have a better idea of the role each will play within the new regime moving forward.
It is unclear what will happen to TBS and TNT’s current slate of scripted programming, but for the moment, it is apparently status quo for returning series like “Snowpiercer.”
Warner Bros. Discovery did not immediately respond to request for comment Tuesday.
After ramping up their scripted programming efforts in the past decade, both TNT and TBS have significantly pared down their scripted offerings in the last few years.
At TBS, the network’s only remaining scripted shows are the comedies “The Last OG,” “Miracle Workers,” “Chad,” and “American Dad.” Of those, “The Last OG” aired its fourth season in October 2021. Variety confirmed with TBS on April 27 that the show had been canceled months prior. “Miracle Workers” aired its third season in July 2021 with a fourth season ordered in November. “Chad” aired its first season in the summer of 2021 with a second season to debut in 2022. “American Dad,” which moved to TBS from Fox in 2014, was renewed for two more seasons in December 2021.
TNT has only two scripted shows left on its roster. Those are “Animal Kingdom,” which will end after its sixth season airing in June, and “Snowpiercer.” The latter show was renewed for a fourth season ahead of its third season premiere.
Warner Bros. Discovery reported its first-quarter earnings earlier Tuesday, which focused primarily on the Q1 results of Discovery, as the combined company did not exist until earlier this month, when the $43 billion deal was closed for Discovery to purchase WarnerMedia from AT&T. Instead, AT&T last week included WarnerMedia results in its quarterly report for the last time.
During Discovery’s Q1 investor call on Tuesday, CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels said WarnerMedia assets profit projection for 2022 is $500 million lower than Discovery expected, and Discovery’s better-than-expected results help offset that for WBD.
“2022 will undoubtedly be a messy year,” he said, and Warner Bros. Discovery is looking to “rectify some of the drivers behind the business-case deviations” across the company.
Wiedenfels called Warner Bros. Discovery’s very recent decision to shut down the newly launched CNN+ “exhibit A” of that strategy. It’s clear now that TNT and TBS’ scripted is part of that too.
Variety's Jennifer Maas and Joe Otterson contributed to this post.