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As HBO Celebrates a Big Night, Questions About Its Future Loom

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WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — The champagne was flowing. HBO had simply capped off another triumphant night time on the Emmys, and it was time to social gathering within the courtyard of the mammoth Pacific Design Center.

At each flip, there was one other present celebrating on Sunday night time. The solid of “Game of Thrones” convened for one final time to toast one other win for greatest drama, its Emmy record-tying fourth victory within the class. John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” overwhelmed his late-night competitors to win greatest speak present for a fourth straight yr. “Chernobyl,” HBO’s sudden gem of a restricted sequence concerning the 1986 nuclear reactor catastrophe, took residence greatest restricted sequence. And the community topped Netflix for many Emmy wins over all, reclaiming sole bragging rights after tying with the streaming service final yr.

“Unparalleled,” mentioned John Stankey, the chief govt of Warner Media, HBO’s guardian, as he stood proper in the course of the social gathering. “Absolutely unbelievable.”

[Read concerning the best and worst moments at the Emmys. See the complete list of winners.]

Now comes the laborious half. HBO, after years of dominance, is at a crossroads.

With fierce competitors from the likes of Netflix, Disney and Apple and a comparatively new guardian firm with no observe file in leisure, can it presumably preserve the hegemony it has held over the tv trade for therefore lengthy?

Mr. Stankey wished none of that.

“That’s a narrative I don’t subscribe to,” he mentioned. “We invested more money in HBO because we believe it’s a mainstay cornerstone of what we’re doing going forward. It’s going to be critical to the service. Our commitment this year, our commitment next year, is going to continue to demonstrate that.”

Still, “Game of Thrones” and “Veep” are each off the air. Many of HBO’s high executives, together with its chief govt, Richard Plepler, have left in the last year. The high producers for “Game of Thrones,” David Benioff and Dan Weiss, the final folks to provide a speech from the Emmys stage on Sunday night time, are leaving, too. They signed a nine-figure deal final month to go to Netflix.

There are different points. Warner Media has a streaming app, HBO Max, that can enter {the marketplace} subsequent yr with a month-to-month value — a minimum of $15 — greater than double what competing providers from Disney, Apple and others will price.

Then there’s the drama surrounding HBO and Warner Media’s guardian firm, AT&T. This month, the investor Elliott Management issued a blistering 24-page report that was important of the “alarming executive turnover” at Warner Media and questioned the corporate’s foray into the leisure house. It doesn’t assist issues that AT&T additionally has $149 billion in web debt.

Not far-off on the Amazon social gathering, a rival within the battle for streaming supremacy was celebrating.

It was a boisterous, loud and sweaty affair on the Chateau Marmont. There was Jon Hamm by accident stumbling into the photograph sales space space. Stephen Colbert, Jane Lynch and Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” made the rounds. The man answerable for your entire operation, Amazon’s chief govt, Jeff Bezos, was sequestered in a reserved nook of the social gathering house. He stood along with his son and a stream of well-wishers who wanted permission from the 2 bodyguards manning the realm to get via to shake his hand.

But he was not the star of the night time. The ’90s hits blaring from the D.J. sales space have been no match for the applause that erupted when Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the star and creator of “Fleabag,” made her means into the social gathering along with her boyfriend, the writer-director Martin McDonagh, in tow. From the second she walked in, Ms. Waller-Bridge was so besieged by well-wishers that she might barely get a chunk of meals and even mild her cigarette.

No marvel. “Fleabag” upset the HBO awards present juggernaut “Veep” for greatest comedy, and Ms. Waller-Bridge claimed three Emmys over all. She beat Julia Louis-Dreyfus to win greatest actress in a comedy, the primary time within the present’s seven seasons that Ms. Louis-Dreyfus didn’t win.

“We had a great night,” Mr. McDonagh mentioned. “I was hoping for one. Who knew?”

Amazon has had the status in Hollywood for being a sleeping big. It spends lots and has seemingly infinite assets, however, regardless of the sooner success of reveals like “Transparent,” its general impression has been muted.

Now, between “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Fleabag,” it has back-to-back Emmy comedy winners. And it’s a signal that there are many opponents — significantly from the tech world — able to go toe to toe with HBO.

With all that, HBO isn’t pushing the panic button simply but.

“I have the benefit of being here for 15 years, so I’ve heard this over and over again,” mentioned Casey Bloys, HBO’s president of programming. “This is the world we dwell in, and our components of curation and betting on folks we imagine in and doing the laborious work, it pays off.

“I’m not going to say I’m not fearful,” Mr. Bloys continued. “You can’t do this job without being worried. But I feel really good about the future.”

Indeed, predicting HBO’s demise has been an leisure world parlor sport for years. After “The Sopranos” went off the air in 2007, rival executives called the network “HB-Over.”

And the community has maintained its behavior of discovering extra hits. Even with out “Game of Thrones” and “Veep,” the cabinet isn’t naked. The second season of “Succession” has obtained a rapturous response from critics.

Next month, HBO will premiere “Watchmen,” an adaptation of the comedian e-book sequence from Damon Lindelof, a co-creator of “The Leftovers.” In November, the community will debut “His Dark Materials,” primarily based on the favored Philip Pullman books. There are additionally sequence from J. J. Abrams and the “Avengers” director Joss Whedon, in addition to spinoff sequence from the “Game of Thrones” universe. And HBO has positioned a sequence order for a comedy that can be produced by none aside from Ms. Waller-Bridge, who will even have a recurring on-screen function.

Executives listed many of those sequence when discussing HBO’s future. And regardless of all of the AT&T messiness and all of the tech opponents, HBO continues to be HBO.


“Obviously there’s a lot of competition,” Mr. Bloys mentioned. “Clearly. It’s harder fought, and so it’s nice. It’s nice. I’m going to enjoy it for one night, and then tomorrow I’m going to go back to anxiety and all the things that come with it.”

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