Warrior is moving to HBO Max, and the move could help the streaming service compete with Netflix, which renewed Cobra Kai after its cancellation.
Now that Warrior season 2 has concluded, the show is expected to release on HBO Max — and could be the streaming service’s answer to Netflix’s Cobra Kai. Warrior premiered on Cinemax in April 2019, and the series concluded December 4, 2020. According to Comicbook, the martial-arts centered period drama is expected to launch on HBO’s streaming service now that the show has concluded on Cinemax, a premium station owned by Home Box Office, Inc. and its parent company WarnerMedia.
Warrior is cancelled, following Cinemax’s change in strategy. Although the show has been popular — so much so that season 2 was ordered after only three episodes of season 1 — Cinemax announced in early 2020 that it would no longer be making original programming. Warrior season 3 had been expected by most up to that point, and as a result, the season 2 finale left many storylines unfinished (actor Andrew Koji told Collider that the creatives had written season 2 prepared for it to be the last, but the number of new storylines introduced in the finale suggests the writers were also working with the assumption that the show would continue).
HBO Max needs to compete with Netflix, and Warrior, a period drama set during the Tong Wars, is the perfect opportunity to do so. The show already meets the high production expectations one would expect from HBO Original programming because Cinemax is also owned by by Home Box Office, Inc. and is a similarly premium channel. The show has been steadily increasing in popularity since its run, with sites like The Ringer highlighting it as the “best show” people aren’t watching. When Warrior does finally become available through HBO Max, it likely will find an all-new audience — it may even encourage people to get HBO Max in order to watch the show. Netflix has shown the immense value in original programming for not just attracting subscribers, but also keeping them. If HBO Max wants to stay ahead in the industry, it’s going to need strong original programming — in a variety of genres.
Cobra Kai once had a similar fate to Warrior: a sequel series to the Karate Kid movie franchise, Cobra Kai was an original program produced by YouTube Red. Despite the show’s popularity, it was cancelled when YouTube changed its corporate strategy and moved away from producing original series. YouTube sold the streaming rights to Cobra Kai to Netflix, which made the title available in August 2020. Cobra Kai proved popular on the platform when it dropped, despite having previously been made available for free on YouTube. Not only that, but Netflix continued production on the series, which has brought the streaming platform considerable buzz: the Cobra Kai season 3 announcement trailer has been viewed millions of times on YouTube alone (who knows how many streamers have watched it through Netflix). It will be interesting to see how many viewers tune in to watch season 3 when it’s available.
There are a number of parallels between Warrior and Cobra Kai: both were cancelled for the same reason after two seasons, and both combine drama, humor, and heart with excellent martial arts fight sequences. When Cobra Kai launched on Netflix, it was widely reported to have broken streaming records, becoming Netflix’s most streamed show of September 2020. Netflix is releasing Cobra Kai season 3 on January 8, 2021, and it remains to be seen if the show’s personality will be changed at all by the move to Netflix (and if that will affect the show’s future). So far, there is no official word yet when HBO Max will begin streaming Warrior seasons 1 and 2, but once it is available, the streaming numbers should provide an indication of whether or not the show will continue — or if the Warrior season 2 finale will be where the series ends.