The popular English film channels HBO and WB will be discontinued in India, along with four other South Asian countries with effect from December 15.
The decision was announced by WarnerMedia International, who have decided to shut down the HBO SD and HD linear movie channels in India and Pakistan, as well as the WB linear movie channel in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Maldives.
The entertainment conglomerate will continue to operate and invest more in its popular kids brands, Cartoon Network and POGO, in the South Asia region, with focus on increasing local animation production in this region.
The closure of HBO and WB, which enjoyed strong positions in the English content market, is an indicator of the growth of OTT platforms, especially amid the ongoing pandemic. The company is set to launch its own streaming platform, HBO Max soon.
"After 20 years of successes for the HBO linear movie channel in South Asia and more than a decade with the WB linear movie channel, this was a difficult decision to make. The pay TV industry landscape and the market dynamics have shifted dramatically, and the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for further change," said Siddharth Jain, senior vice president and managing director for WarnerMedia's entertainment networks in South Asia.
"WarnerMedia has a strong interest in India and is committed to assessing optimal opportunities to serve valued customers here," he added.
For now, HBO has a content syndication partnership with Disney's streaming platform in India and offers its content through the platform.
"If you want to be a strong global player, you have to be strong in Asia-Pacific. In India, we don't have the scale that we want and where we have to be. In order to get there, the workhorse will be HBO Max," said Gerhard Zeiler, head of WarnerMedia International, sometime back, hinting at the release of the streaming platform in the country.