Hollywood writers have gone on strike before. But this one, which lasted nearly five months, was different, largely because of some of the fundamental shifts going on in the entertainment industry.
That’s according to HBO CEO Casey Bloys, who spoke at Vox’s Code Conference on Wednesday. He addressed a number of topics while at the event.
“I will not be the first to say it, but I think some of the issues were… you know the word ‘existential’ is thrown around a lot. We are in a moment in the industry that, you know, there’s a lot changing,” Bloys said. “So I don’t think any aspect of the business is business as usual. Labor issues included.”
The Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers struck a deal on Sunday night, with union members officially ratifying the new agreement on Tuesday. The contract calls for pay raises, as well as more disclosure around streaming data and protections against artificial intelligence.
There was a uniquely high set of stakes with this latest round since the media industry has gone all-in on streaming services, completely shaking up the older model of compensation, which was based on older box office and linear TV business models.
“I’m happy that everybody appears to be very happy with the deal that they got,” Bloys said, while acknowledging that while the new terms means making content will be more expensive, it won’t affect his judgment. “A good show is a good show is a good show. So that’s usually what I’m concerned about. We’ve been through strikes before. It doesn’t affect the kinds of shows we make.”
Bloys also addressed Warner Bros. Discovery’s decision to license out HBO shows to services like Netlfix, once considered a no-no as the company had sought to retain a premium reputation for its content. He called the idea of keeping things “in-house” the conventional wisdom for the last 10 years at HBO, but that there was a longer idea in the overall TV industry that getting shows syndicated “was like the brass ring” and a mark of success.
Lastly, Bloys lauded Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s focus on mixing the need to be profitable with creating quality content.
“It was the right tone for for trying to figure out ‘how do we do this in streaming and have it make sense?’’” he said.