HBO Max Will Mash Up With Discovery Plus in the Middle of Next Year
Streaming service HBO Max will combine with Discovery Plus for US subscribers during the summer of 2023, Warner Bros. Discovery said Thursday, detailing the plans for a move that it has telegraphed ever since the company was formed by a megamerger earlier this year.
Latin America will get the mashed-up version of the services later in 2023. Some European markets where HBO Max is already operating will follow in early 2024, and the company will launch the combined offering in some new Asia Pacific and European markets later in 2024.
The company didn’t specify any pricing changes as the two services meld. Warner Bros. Discovery added that it was exploring the possibility of launching a free, ad-supported streaming offering of some kind.
The plan to combine HBO Max and Discovery Plus is a “main priority,” Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said Thursday, in a discussion of the company’s streaming strategy. The two services have 92 million subscribers collectively, and Warner Bros.
Discovery said it anticipates adding more than 40 million more members by 2025. By comparison, Netflix, the world’s biggest subscription streaming service, has nearly 221 million. In April, Discovery and WarnerMedia closed their £43 billion megamerger to form the combined Warner Bros.
Discovery. The deal united Hollywood powerhouse WarnerMedia — home to streaming service HBO Max, the Warner Bros. movie studio and TV channels like HBO, CNN, TBS and more — with Discovery, known for reality shows and unscripted programming on its cable networks and streaming service Discovery Plus. HBO Max is known for prestige originals and a deep library of top movies.
Discovery Plus, on the other hand, is known for unscripted programming at both the high end (like award-winning natural history documentaries) and the low (like Naked and Afraid and the wildly popular 90-Day Fiance). But the companies’ combination clouded the future shape of both HBO Max and Discovery Plus. Earlier this year, the new company’s leadership was clear they wanted to combine the two services, but executives hadn’t specified how or when until Thursday.
Warner Bros. Discovery also said earlier it would consider intermediary steps like bundling the services in a discounted package before a full-fledged combination of the two. Their combination comes at a time when streaming video has never been more popular — and the competition around it never more fierce.
In the last two years, media giants and tech heavyweights have launched their own rivals to Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, with services like Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus, HBO Max and Peacock rolling out. These so-called streaming wars also affect how many services you must use — and pay for — to watch your favorite shows and movies online. The latest news comes after reports of an escalating number scuttled shows, movies and other projects.
Most recently, the movie Batgirl had its release scrapped Tuesday, despite the fact that the film (with a reported £90 billion budget)the fact that the movie was already well into post-production. Earlier this year, Warner Bros. Discovery killed CNN Plus, a streaming service complement to the 24-hour news network, within about three weeks of its launch.
Collectively, those decisions and others have underscored an era of belt tightening under Zaslav.