The Sandman Renewal Could Kickstart Streaming War Between Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery CEO

The past few months have brought an unprecedented number of new changes to the newly-minted Warner Bros. Discovery, many of which have reverberated out into the larger media landscape. As the powerhouse company tries to remedy a significant amount of debt, specifics about their business dealings are beginning to come to light — including CEO David Zaslav's feelings about one component of the company. On Friday, new reporting revealed that Zaslav is unhappy with the streaming deals arranged with Netflix, which serves as the streaming home for a number of Warner Bros. Television shows. According to the report, Zaslav has instructed his teams to temporarily pause selling finished shows to Netflix, as he dislikes the fact that producers of Netflix television shows are paid over the course of 18 to 24 months — a policy the streamer has had in place for several years now.

Warner Bros. Television has traditionally been among the major companies that sell shows to Netflix, including the recently-renewed The Sandman, as well as Sweet Tooth, You, Manifest, and several shows that originally air on The CW. 

"It's an odd way of looking at it," one Warner Bros. Discovery insider says in the report. "It's obviously the way the industry works and has worked with Netflix. He's paid big numbers [by Netflix] and the company has been happy with that. It's like he suddenly discovered what the payment terms were."

What is The Sandman about?

The Sandman is based on the iconic comic from Neil Gaiman and artists Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Jill Thompson, Shawn McManus, Marc Hempel, Bryan Talbot, and Michael Zulli. A rich blend of modern myth and dark fantasy in which contemporary fiction, historical drama and legend are seamlessly interwoven, The Sandman follows the people and places affected by Morpheus, the Dream King, as he mends the cosmic – and human – mistakes he's made during his vast existence.

Season 1 of the series stars Tom Sturridge as Dream, Kirby Howell-Baptise as Death, Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer, Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess, Asim Chaudhry as Abel, Sanjeev Bhaskar as Cain, Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine, Joely Richardson as Ethel Cripps, David Thewlis as John Dee, Boyd Holbrook as The Corinthian, Stephen Fry as Gilbert, Patton Oswalt as the voice of Dream's raven Matthew, and Mason Alexander Park as Desire.

"Basically, the way that it works is making something like Sandman is incredibly expensive," Gaiman explained in a recent interview with Rolling Stone. "This is not a cheap show. This is the opposite of a cheap show. This is dead expensive. And that means that in order to be renewed, we have to perform as well as everybody could possibly, possibly hope. So everybody is very hopeful. It's all looking great. We're certainly on track for it. But it's all about how we do over the month after release."

"Well, you get breadcrumbs, and much more importantly, most of the breadcrumbs that they give you are things that you can check publicly," Gaiman continued. "I think last week, human beings on the face of this planet spent 127 million hours watching Sandman. That is an awful lot of Sandman. And the next-most-watched thing was watched for 65 million hours or whatever. So we're doing well. We're really doing great."

Are you excited that The Sandman is getting a second season? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

The first season of The Sandman is now available to stream exclusively on Netflix.

h/t: Deadline