The network will transition into a preview channel for the company's upcoming HBO Max streaming platform.
It was a grand experiment in original programming that is coming to an end, or will it perhaps live on elsewhere? AT&T announced on Wednesday that it was the end of the road for its Audience network.
Rebranded after AT&T acquired DirecTV, Audience began broadcasting exclusive and original programming, including "Mr. Mercedes," based on a series of novels by Stephen King. Other original shows included "You, Me, Her," "Condor" and "Loudermilk." While the first of those three wrapped its five-season run already, the latter two have been renewed, though without premiere dates.
"Mr. Mercedes" just completed its third season, with its fate as yet undetermined. But this news makes the fates of all Audience originals unkonwn, and AT&T offered no clarity.
"Any future use of Audience Network content will be assessed at a later date," a representative for the company told reporters at the TCA winter press tour.
As for the network itself, its future is known, as it will be transitioning into a preview channel for AT&T's upcoming HBO Max streaming platform. It's unclear if this means the former Audience will show full episodes of HBO Max programming, or rather serve as one promotional trailer after another.
It is possible that it could wind up previewing some of its own content, as one possible destination for Audience programming could very well be HBO Max. While none of the shows have been ratings juggernauts, Stephen King is certainly enjoying an adaptation renaissance and it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a relationship with him.
AT&T is looking to charge $14.99 per month for HBO Max, easily higher than its competitors, so it would make sense for the company to want to not only focus all of its energy into the platform but try and maximize the original programming they can tout on the platform.
There has been speculation since the announcement of HBO Max that the DC Universe streaming app could face a similar fate to Audience. Already, the upcoming second season of "Doom Patrol" is slated for joint broadcast on DC Universe and HBO Max, while "Stargirl" is set to air on The CW just one day after its streaming premier on DC Universe.
While nothing has been said yet, you just know conversations are happening about rolling DC Universe into HBO Max. Why would the company want to spread itself across two streaming platforms if it doesn't have to. The only wrinkle could be that DC Universe also includes access to thousands of digital comic books which might be impossible to port over to HBO Max.
At the same time, one of the biggest draws to the fledgling Disney+ was the inclusion of Marvel properties in its launch portfolio. Considering DC has just as many iconic superhero characters, and a vast array of shows and films based on them, it would be foolish for HBO Max to not include them as part of their content strategy.
HBO Max launches in May 2020, which gives the company four months to decide what to do with those already greenlit seasons of "Condor" and "Loudermilk," as well as the future of "Mr. Mercedes" and the entirety of DC Universe.
The new streaming platform is a huge initiative for the company, and one that easily overshadows DC Universe and Audience combined in cultural awareness and anticipation. There is no logical reason for AT&T to support additional networks and streaming platforms when they're about to have one of the biggest names in the sector.
And with such a hefty price tag, they're going to absolutely need to ensure potential subscribers are getting as much bang for their buck as possible, and that means as much exclusive and classic content as possible.
And apparently a network exclusively devoted to promoting and previewing the hell out of it.