WarnerMedia’s Priya Dogra Talks HBO Max, Local Content


Priya Dogra, the president of EMEA and Asia (excluding China) at WarnerMedia, discussed the importance of local stories to HBO Max as it steps up its international expansion at Series Mania today.

HBO Max is currently available in 21 European territories, Dogra said. “We’ve released eight original shows from Europe in five different languages. By the end of the year, we expect HBO Max to go live in six more European countries, bringing our total to 67 countries globally, with many more still to come.”

As streamers continue their global expansion strategies, “we are seeing record levels of investment in high-quality content in all markets, and no more so than in Europe,” Dogra noted. “This is, of course, a hugely positive development for local content creators, who have more opportunities than ever to tell their stories and ensure their content is increasingly discoverable by audiences everywhere.”

In Europe, WarnerMedia has gone from producing about ten HBO titles in 2019 to having more than 40 in the pipeline for 2023 for HBO Max. “The creation of local content is so important to our business at WarnerMedia,” Dogra said.

Touting the strengths of the WarnerMedia U.S. slate, including Warner Bros. theatricals, HBO, HBO Max and Cartoon Network originals and more, Dogra noted,  “We also know that people love authentic stories that reflect their own cultures and communities. And we know that people want exposure to new experiences and worlds beyond their own. So, we tell those stories. We tell stories that interrogate beliefs, adding depth and perspective to people’s world views. We tell stories people did not know they wanted or needed. We want to show a broader range of roles and more diverse casts on-screen, presenting strong, positive role models. And we can tell those stories in many different forms and across different genres. We give storytellers the support and freedom they need.”

Local storytelling, Dogra said, should “first and foremost serve local audiences,” but has the potential to resonate globally given the rising popularity of non-English-language content worldwide.

“Beyond the importance of local storytelling to local and global audiences is the compelling business case,” Dogra said, citing WarnerMedia’s Spanish business as a key example. “We were streaming HBO content direct to consumers for some years prior to the transition to HBO Max. Local storytelling played an essential role in the growth of the service, both shaping perceptions and driving consumption.” Key originals to have emerged from Spain include the International Emmy nominee Patria and 30 Coins, which is in production on a second season. “Our success in Spain has created a strong foundation for HBO Max,” Dogra said, citing the premiere of four Spanish originals on HBO Max: Venga Juan, Todo Lo Otro, Sin Novedad and Dolores: The Truth About the Wanninkhof Case. Still to come this year are García!, a sci-fi thriller, and the adult animation Poor Devil.

Also coming out of Europe are originals like The Thaw from Poland and The Informant from Hungary. “This underlines the breadth of our commitment to local production,” Dogra said. The Danish drama Kamikaze was HBO Max’s first European series to receive a simultaneous premiere across the service’s footprint. “From now on, our intention is that day and date will be the default way for us to launch new scripted series across our footprint, ensuring people can engage and enjoy our content together and be part of a global conversation no matter where in the world they are.”

Dogra then discussed WarnerMedia’s long-standing commitment to local production in France for theatrical distribution. “Since our first French local production 25 years ago, Warner Bros. France has released 55 French films. In total, these films generated more than 60 million theatrical admissions and represent an investment of more than €200 million ($220 million) in the French industry. Our intention is to expand our support and commitment to French production, distributing our locally produced movies through cinemas and then through our own streaming service around the world. This will mean an increase in volume to between six and eight French movies per year across a broader range of genres. In addition to films, we are also committed to building a strong slate of locally produced series for linear television in France, beginning with the eight-part comedy Visitors. This is just the start of our ambitions for French original TV production.”

“In conclusion, the environment is changing and all players are recognizing the need to increase local investments,” Dogra said. “And no one is better set to do this than WarnerMedia with our experience of pioneering successful local partnerships and productions. We know that local and global audiences are hungry for diverse, authentic storytelling that reflects our myriad cultures and communities on-screen. And local creators can count on our support. There is much more to come as we forge partnerships with more content creators, providing backing for more original series, and extend our reach to more territories, opening up even more opportunity for local investment.”