In one of the most mind-bending changes in reporting under the new leadership of Warner Bros. DiscoveryChip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Network has moved out of the discovery on the company’s Warner Bros. website at HBO and HBO Max Chief Content Officer Casey Bloys. On closer inspection, the move that could lead to a Magnolia brand hub on HBO Max and the Gaines’ dive into script programming isn’t all that shocking. It only took the pair two mergers and three relationships to get there.
Gaines’ journey of discovery began in July 2017 when the company announced that it had agreed to acquire Scripps, whose flagship network was HGTVwhere the Gaines fixer above was that network’s flagship show. It was to be a very short journey; Less than two months later, the Gaines announced they were ending fixer above and leave HGTV.
It was widely believed that the duo’s strained relationship with Kathleen Finch played a major role in their decision not to renew their HGTV deals. Finch ran HGTV when fixer above started and oversaw the channel at the time of Gaines’ exit in her role as Chief Programming, Content & Brand Officer for the Scripps Networks.
At the time, the Gaineses had no relationship with Discovery CEO David Zaslav, but they soon developed one. How he learned that fixer top, the biggest hit in the portfolio of networks he bought was coming to an end. “It sucked the air out of my lungs,” he told the WSJ in 2018.
Zaslav traveled to the Gaines’ home in Waco, TX, where the couple’s sprawling lifestyle empire is based, to woo her back. Balancing an accomplished star manager in Finch and superstar talent in the Gaines was tricky.
A direct return for the duo to HGTV was pretty much out of the question, but Zaslav found a way by making Finch chief lifestyle brands officer for the combined Discovery-Scripps company and a media joint venture between Discovery and the Gaines duo for Magnolia Orchestrated Network, a linear cable network to replace the DIY channel and a digital brand for a subscription streaming service. (Magnolia content is currently streaming on Discovery+.)
“We have this bromance going, David and I,” Chip Gaines said at Discovery 2019 in advance, shortly after the joint venture was announced.
Citing an existing relationship, the Gaineses chose o their close ally on HGTV during the runf fixer abovethen-HGTV President Allison Page to lead the joint venture as President.
Since then, the Gaineses have enjoyed special status at Discovery, with Page reporting directly to Zaslav. (The same is true for the other two recent Discovery joint ventures, Motor Trend and OWN, which were placed under Finch’s oversight after Oprah Winfrey sold a majority of her stake in the latter in 2020.)
After completing the Discoverywarnermedia With today’s merger, Zaslav saw his portfolio massively expanded and expanded took on several new direct subordinates including Casey Bloys from HBO/HBO Max, Warner Bros.’ Toby Emmerich, Warner Bros. TV Group’s Channing Dungey and CNN’s Chris Licht.
Within the new combined universe, the two joint ventures Magnolia Network and Motor Trend no longer have a direct connection to Zaslav. In which Warner Bros. Discovery Structure has two program officers overseeing networks/streamers: Bloys and Finch. Finch, who was named chairman and chief content officer of US Networks Group, added TBS, TNT, truTV, TCM, Boomerang and Cartoon Network/Adult Swim to the WarnerMedia Entertainment Cable Networks portfolio.
It seems strange that Bloys, who has focused on premium scripted content for most of his career, would be given oversight of a basic unscripted cable network while virtually every other ad-supported cable network, including several WM Networks, that have original script programs would do this Go under Finch, whose background is entirely unscripted.
Aside from the question of the Gaines-Finch relationship, which sources say has gotten a little better over the years, there were other factors in the decision to move Magnolia Network to the HBO/HBO side and report Page to Bloys, who all content monitored. scripted and unscripted, for HBO and HBO Max (excluding children and YA plan).
HBO Max has established itself as a destination for female-led scripted programs with shows like And just like that… the flight attendant, Chop and HBO’s Euphoria, that attract the same female demographic as Magnolia’s lifestyle series. HBO Max has attempted to expand into this unscripted space following the huge success of its Pandemic series Selena + Cook.
Magnolia Network’s list would fit that, with talk of a potential hub on HBO Max built around the brand. Independent producers who sold projects to Magnolia told Deadline that the network operated on competitive budgets from the start, resulting in content that could live on a premium content platform like HBO Max. (Warner Bros. Discovery leadership is yet to unveil plans for how HBO Max and Discovery+ will be bundled/combined in the future.)
Additionally, the Gaines had considered eventually expanding their brand into scripts, which is a real possibility now that they’re part of the HBO/HBO Max family, sources said.
I have heard that this was not an arranged marriage that arose on both sides. It’s been in the works for a while, and I hear HBO/HBO Max Brass were fans of Magnolia programs like Fixer Upper: Welcome home and The Lost Kitchen. (Apart from the controversy surrounding the renovation show homeworkMagnolia’s Shale has been generally well received.)
While Magnolia Network’s move to the HBO/HBO Max group seems permanent, other cable networks in the combined company could be on the move.
I’ve heard that depending on who is hired as chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery Sports, that person could oversee sports-heavy TNT and TBS. It is expected that this new hire will also be responsible for the Motor Trend joint venture and this cable channel.