Warner Bros. Discovery CEE Boss Says There’s A Streaming Cold War: “People Are Aligning, Figuring Out Who They Can Work With” – NEM Dubrovnik

The streaming war is over, but we are now in a streaming cold war as players work out which alliances they want to make and how to adapt to the new landscape, Warner Bros. Discovery international exec Jamie Cooke said during his keynote at the ongoing NEM Dubrovnik event in Croatia.

Cooke is Group SVP and GM for CEE, North Africa and Turkey at WBD. His NEM interview, moderated by Deadline, was titled The Streaming War Isn’t Over. He was quizzed on whether, per that wording, conflict is ongoing between SVODs.

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“If you think about the last four or five years and we’re talking from a global perspective, you can see that there was a de-aggregation of services with this perception that you could create a really niche product for different consumer groups, with heavy content investment,” he said. “I think that phase of the war is over. It’s turning more into the next phase, like a cold war; people are aligning, figuring out who they can work with, there is an acceptance that there is a need to come together more.”

The WBD exec pointed to developments in the U.S. where Max is being bundled with Disney to create a product with Max, Disney+ and Hulu, and Venu Sports, the streaming joint venture from Disney, Fox and WBD.

Asked whether the international markets will follow the U.S., with cooperation and alliances formed, Cooke said that was needed “otherwise you’re just into that spiral of spending more and more money on content and fighting with X amount of players,” but, he added, there are always challenges when huge companies align.

“You’ve got to get over strategies that companies have established for the long term, you have to kind of rip them up and think about them differently, it requires collaboration, which is not always easy,” he said. “But I think it’s a necessity, and more so for the consumer. If you need seven subscriptions to find what you want, that feels really clunky.”

Max is in 65 markets globally and 25 in Europe, including Poland where it has just gone live. Cooke said profitability, scale, and engagement are the three metrics WBD has in mind when considering where to rollout next.

He also addressed HBO Europe shuttering its scripted unit and said it “hasn’t had a massive negative impact” in terms of the subscriber count or profitability. Speaking more broadly about the role of local originals, he added: “There are places where, with local content you can have a breakout hit and it does really well. There is definitely a role for local content. I think that what I would look for is content that can travel.”

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