You would have thought that with post-Daily ShowJon Stewart growing out a beard, he was done with the media and ready to move to a cabin and start his own line of chainsaw-carved bears. But nope! He's back at it, starting an interesting—which is a nice way of saying peculiar—venture with HBO. Stewart and HBO have signed a four-year deal for J-Stew to create content for HBO.
Except it's not actually HBO as you know it. Stewart will use his news sense to create short-form digital content for HBO NOW, HBO GO, and other online platforms. It's a bit hazy as to what exactly he'll be doing, but HBO describes it as "timely short-form digital content, which will be refreshed on HBO NOW multiple times throughout the day." The project will also involve new technology from "pioneering cloud graphics company" OTOY that will help him put snippets together lickety split. It sounds like short videos discussing breaking news that could be shared and distributed around the Web, but if they're exclusive on HBO GO and HBO NOW, how will everyone see them? Hmm...
The deal also includes a first-look option at anything Stewart creates, which sounds like the real deal behind the deal. While it probably won't involve a next-gen Daily Show starring Stewart—particularly when they already have Last Week Tonight with John Oliver—it does mean Stewart could slap his name on a new HBO drama or comedy.
With Stewart on board, it seems HBO is stockpiling free-agent talent. HBO also recently signed a deal with ESPN castoff Bill Simmons, and of course HBO also has Oliver. And don't forget about the deal to bring on Sesame Street, which is the ultimate on-demand show for busy parents. With Simmons, Stewart, and Sesame Street, could HBO be planning a new take on the online platform? Is HBO changing the way we watch TV? It looks that way.