Because the deal saddled WBDisco with $53 billion in debt.
That's right- the net leverage of WB is over 5x (Disney's, for comparison, is at 2x-2.2x). So HBOMax is in a weird position- it isn't a subsidized service (AppleTV+, Prime, Peacock, even Disney+) that can just funnel money into streaming in the hope of future profits. And it's not an established, powerful, and profitable player like Netflix.
And it has a massive debt that it has to service in a time with uncertain, and high, interest rates.
So now look at all their decisions-
Batgirl? Save money.
Removing big shows from the platform? Save money.
Going in a new direction in the DC Movie universe (and not paying established stars)? Save money.
Getting rid of high-concept and expensive shows in favor of more Dr. Primple Popper? Save money.
In other words, it is a company with a crippling debt burden looking for a way out. Maybe that will be a sale, or maybe that will be a continued pivot to a lesser version of what it once was. But when looking at any decision made by HBOMax (or the parent studio), don't think of it in terms of creative decision-making, or the fans, or even the future of the company ... just remember ... 53 billion in debt needs to be serviced.
Yes, I'm not a big fan of some of their moves recently, and I'm not sure how they plan on actually getting out of debt or what their plan is to do so.
You can save money, but you have to actually MAKE money to pay off the debt. I can see how they are saving money, but I'm not seeing a solid plan that will actually MAKE money thus far.
All I see is a bunch of bad PR as they upset their existing fans and viewers. That's not the key to making money. You want to retain your current audience and then BUILD upon that making an even BIGGER audience.
I just don't see how they are going around doing that yet.
To put it in a D&D sense. Yes, D&D rules have always made money, but for a while consecutively (from my viewpoint) lost customers. From AD&D to 2e they upset some players. This dwindled an audience of 20 to 25 million down to 1 million or less...BUT then 3e came around. It still didn't get the numbers back. It upset a LOT of people (no one seems to remember the edition wars back then, but they were FAR worse than the 3e to 4e...and I'm still bitter). They only got around 5 million players (loss of 15 - 20 million, sure you can blame late TSR, but 3e didn't do much to gain back the audience and probably upset half of those players who never really came back). 4e once again didn't care about building on the former audiences and lost even more players. They upset around half of their base again (though part of it was the sting of 3.5 and then changing the game up so quickly after that debacle] now down to 2-3 million players.
5e took a different approach. IT sought reconciliation with ALL generations of players. It sought to at least verbally APPEAL to ALL generations of players. It sought to bring the old audiences back. Once that base was established it then built up the game from there to bring in NEW players. Result...we are back to something between 15 to 25 million players again.
[So...comparison...which do you think is the better approach...2-3 million customers, or 15-25 million customers? It seems pretty obvious to me. If they keep up the approach who knows how many they can finally get in their fanbase?]
Appealing and building on your old fans works...upsetting them seems to only reduce your audience size...and I don't think that's ever a good thing.