EXCLUSIVE: Charter Communications is withdrawing from the original programming business. The decision to close Spectrum Originals comes as Katherine Pope, who started and led the effort as Charter’s head of original content, is leaving to become president of Sony Pictures Television Studios.
According to sources, this decision is not unexpected and Pope’s exit has provided an opportunity to start the process now. It will be a process — there are several series in the pipeline, and a Spectrum representative told Deadline that the company will explore programming and distribution options for all of them in the coming weeks. Some could still air on Spectrum, the rights to others could be returned to producers so they can find new homes for their shows.
The list includes Season 2 of Joe Pickettwhich became Spectrum Originals’ most-watched show, as well as the next beacon 23, with Lena Headey and Stephan James, which has just been renewed for a second season ahead of its series premiere; George and Tammie, with Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon; and two Sony TV shows, limited series A spy among friendswith Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce, and Sleevewith Luke Kirby.
Charter Communications unveiled its plans for a push into original scripted content in early 2018 when the company brought in Pope. At the time, this was a strategy employed by other cable/satellite providers like DirecTV (via its Audience channel) to try to stem the loss of video subscribers due to cord cutting. At the time, digital media giants such as Google’s YouTube and Facebook were also making inroads into the original scripted space. Over the past three years, these three companies have moved away from scripted originals as high-end scripted programming business models have become increasingly difficult.
Spectrum Originals used an attractive business model for studios involving a relatively short exclusive window that allows for lower pricing and used profitable international co-productions. Yet we have seen production costs rise across the board amid increased competition from new streamers entering the market as well as the pandemic, with Covid protocols adding a hefty surcharge to series budgets.
As a result I hear Spectrum Originals had to adjust their slate and should have drastically reduced the number of sets they put on the service each year – which was around 5-7 – in order to stay within their limits annuals. budget parameters.
Additionally, the May announcement of Comcast and Charter’s joint venture to expand Flex’s reach signals a potential strategic shift for the cable giants to become a dominant streaming video aggregator, competing with Roku, Amazon, Samsung and other streaming distribution companies. .