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HBO in Talks to License Some Original Series to Rival Netflix, Including Issa Rae’s Hit Comedy Insecure

In a first for HBO in the streaming era, the pay cable network synonymous with prestige TV is in talks to license some of its original series to Netflix in order to maximize their financial potential.

Deadline broke the news late Tuesday night, reporting that Issa Rae‘s comedy Insecure is slated to be among the package of titles included in the deal, which hasn’t closed yet and could still fall apart — especially given that some key HBO execs have pushed back against the plan, which represents a major strategy shift akin to Sony’s decision to be a so-called “arms dealer” in the streaming wars.

When David Zaslav first took over as CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, he alluded to the idea that he was willing to license content to bolster the company’s bottom line. Westworld has been streaming on free platforms such as Tubi and Roku since February, though HBO doesn’t really consider either of them a direct SVOD competitor — certainly not like Netflix, Amazon, or Apple TV+.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time HBO has licensed its content elsewhere, as edited-for-TV versions of Sex and the City and The Sopranos have aired on TBS and A&E, respectively, while Spike TV ran re-runs of Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm could be found on the TV Guide Channel, of all places.

The Sopranos
The Sopranos image via HBO

Naturally, Netflix won’t have the “exclusive” on all of the HBO shows it gets its hands on, as some will continue to stream on Max. I wouldn’t be surprised if HBO made Ballers part of the package, as that seems like a natural fit for the streamer given Dwayne Johnson‘s popularity, though ultimately, it’ll all come down to what Netflix execs think their subscribers want.

Insecure wrapped up its five-season run in December 2021, and in a rare movie, its syndication rights were actually licensed to basic cable network OWN, which itself is owned by Warner Bros. Discovery. OWN is hardly an HBO competitor, which is why the network’s arrangement with Netflix isn’t as easy to defend, though it’s in keeping with Zaslav’s mission to cut costs across the company and monetize its library.

A deal with Netflix would also help HBO shows reach a new global audience, and in theory, could drive subscriptions for Max using a rival streamer to effectively advertise its content. Stay tuned, as neither Warner Bros. Discovery nor Netflix offered any comment to Deadline.

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