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WarnerMedia Streaming Service Will Launch Beta Version by the End of the Year

The wall behind CEO Kevin Reilly at the Television Critics Association press tour on Monday afternoon had the logos for Warner Bros., HBO, and Turner featured prominently behind them. With 42,000 hours of programming, as Reilly cited, between those three prongs of the future of WarnerMedia, the impending massive entry into the ongoing platform wars now has a fresh premiere date.

“Our initial launch will be a beta product in Q4 this year, where some of our available library of content loaded in, and we’ll ramp up the service through [2020]. We fully expect what we’re building will be something quite special and differentiated.”

Notably, one part of this new venture that isn’t part of the plan going forward is FilmStruck, the service that WarnerMedia discontinued last fall. Despite the public outcry at the time, Reilly stood by the assertions that the company made at the time about why FilmStruck wasn’t going to be included in this as-yet-unnamed WarnerMedia platform.

“Warner Bros. has a disproportionate amount of the titles that are considered the great films. Having that kind of aspirational beacon in our service and maintaining that fanbase is very important,” Reilly said. “While that is a very, very passionate fanbase, it is also very targeted. Through the prism of scaling and investing in a new business, it was a little cart-before-the-horse in the sense that we had to focus the resources on building this larger platform. We fully expect, down the road, to bring that fanbase into the platform and create an excellent experience for them.”

Given that HBOGO is its own separate entity, Reilly answered questions about how the overlap of the respective aims of this won’t be counterproductive.

Chief Creative Officer of Turner Entertainment Kevin Reilly speaks during the TBS/TNT executive session at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour at The Langham Huntington, in Pasadena, Calif2019 Winter TCA - Turner, Pasadena, USA - 11 Feb 2019

“Content goes through a natural life cycle of which it benefits at times being off different platforms or being on a new platform. We think that the diverse ecosystem is going to be healthier for content and for our creative partners to form more access and exposure.”

When asked about The CW’s ongoing deal with Netflix, Reilly claimed that at the moment, there wasn’t a complete need to have content only on this new platform. In fact, Reilly stressed that WarnerMedia will be experimenting with “dynamic windowing,” with certain pieces of the expansive library available at different times.

“There’s no piece of content in the WarnerMedia portfolio that will now not be looked at for the service initially. That doesn’t mean that every piece of content will end up on the service. It doesn’t mean that every piece of content, if it ends up on the service, will be there permanently.”

Read More: Paul Thomas Anderson, Nolan, DiCaprio, and More Write Letter to Save FilmStruck

Still, he explained that the hope is that the current collection of networks and existing streaming services will work better in tandem.

“We’ve built so many brands that were then sold to SVOD where it was not talking back to us, was not attributing back to us. It was being consumed separately. We think we’re going to be able to close the loop now, that when we have a season of something on one of our linear networks that is now playing in a long tail on an SVOD platform, they can play together.”

Answering a question in his role as TNT boss, Reilly also offered his perspective on the behind-the-scenes changes on the TV adaptation of “Snowpiercer.” Original showrunner Josh Friedman and pilot director Scott Derrickson both separated from the project during production, with Graeme Manson brought in to serve as showrunner and James Hawes handling various reshoots.

“We had a pilot that was really promising with some creative people behind it,” Reilly said. “In that case, a filmmaker who had not really done television before, mounting a series was a different order. Graeme is a consummate professional and an incredible partner and has built off the template of what we had, with a great cast.”

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