HBO is making it harder to watch John Oliver for free — the opposite of what Comedy Central is doing with Jon Stewart

  • Warner Bros. Discovery is delaying "Last Week Tonight" YouTube streaming to push viewers to Max.

  • The move contrasts with other networks, which promptly upload shows to YouTube after airing.

  • This strategy is part of Warner Bros. Discovery's broader cost-cutting and revenue-boosting efforts.

Every Monday night, Jon Stewart hosts "The Daily Show" on cable TV. And if you miss it, you can watch it the next morning, for free, on YouTube.

Every Sunday night, John Oliver hosts "Last Week Tonight" on cable TV. And if you missed it, you used to be able to watch it the next morning, for free, on YouTube.

Not anymore: Starting this week, Warner Bros Discovery, which owns HBO, the channel that airs Oliver's show, is holding back the show from YouTube for several days. Instead of airing on Google's free service on Monday, the show won't appear until Thursday.

Oliver tweeted about the move and made it clear he doesn't like it:

But HBO PR is quite clear about why it's doing this: It wants people to watch the show on Max, the WBD-owned streaming platform, where it makes money. When it plays on YouTube, where HBO runs it without ads, it doesn't make any money.

Here's the official HBO statement: "When Last Week Tonight With John Oliver premiered on HBO, the convenience of watching on Max did not exist, so YouTube allowed flexible viewing for the main story as well as promotional exposure. We are now delaying that availability and hope those fans choose to watch the entire show on Max."

Some context: Since Discovery boss David Zaslav acquired what used to be called WarnerMedia nearly two years ago, he has been trying to cut costs and increase revenues nearly any way he can, sometimes in ways that anger consumers or media chatterers. Like permanently shelving completed movies or licensing some of WBD's best-known shows and movies to rival streamer Netflix.

So hoping that making "Last Week Tonight" a little harder to see for free fits pretty easily into that pattern. Even if his talent disagrees.

The move also runs counter to the way TV networks are treating comedy #content in general. As I've noted before, back in YouTube's earliest days, Big TV execs freaked out when their stuff showed up on YouTube, but now they're very comfortable with it, and you can watch stuff like "The Daily Show" and "Saturday Night Live" for free online, very soon after their initial airings.

One big difference: "The Daily Show" and "SNL" run on ad-supported networks, so there's a way for those networks to generate some kind of revenue when they air on digital platforms as well — even if those revenue streams are much smaller then the ones they generate on conventional TV. But HBO is ad-free, and the network runs its stuff on YouTube the same way. So there's no obvious way to get anything more than promotional value when Oliver's show runs there.

Here, by the way, is "The Daily Show's" main monologue from Monday night, which I haven't watched yet but am looking forward to seeing:

And while I'm at it, I should say that I have watched this week's "Last Week Tonight" (I watched it on Max/HBO the day after it aired), and it's quite worth watching, especially for the stunt Oliver pulls at the end (don't click that link unless you want a spoiler).

Read the original article on Business Insider