- HBO Max and Discovery+ will be combined into one service.
- Warner Bros. Discovery announced that it is aiming to launch the new streaming service in the summer of 2023.
- It determines how the services appeal to different demographics, and will complement each other.
It was inevitable: HBO Max and Discovery+ are combining.
Warner Bros. Discovery announced details about the plan during its second-quarter earnings call on Thursday, its first quarter as a company. The move has been widely expected since WarnerMedia and Discovery completed their blockbuster merger earlier this year.
The company plans to launch the new service in the US for the first time next summer. It aims to achieve 135 million global customers by 2025. It did not announce any pricing details.
But Warner Bros. Discovery went on to detail how it views each service, and how they will complement each other.
It has been said that HBO Max eschews male, specializes in scripted material and placement viewing, and is the “house of fandom”.
Discovery+, meanwhile, focuses on skewed female, unscripted programming and comfy viewing, and is more about “styles” than “fandom”.
Max initially struggled to launch to existing HBO subscribers, but has since established itself as a streaming power player. Max added 3 million subscribers in the first quarter of the year, its last quarter under previous corporate parent AT&T — bringing overall Max and HBO subscribers to 76.8 million. Discovery reported that Discovery+ had 24 million subscribers as of the end of the first quarter.
But on Thursday, Warner Bros. Discovery reported that it had 92.1 million subscribers across all of its platforms (HBO, Max and Discovery+) and did not break down the number by service. By the end of Q1, the Services will have over 100 million customers combined.
Warner Bros. Discovery said this was because it did not include “10 million legacy Discovery non-core subscribers and inactive AT&T Mobility subscribers from the Q1 subscriber count.” Based on that, the company said it added 1.7 million global customers in the quarter.
Currently, the maximum cost is $15 per month for the ad-free plan and $10 per month for the ad-supported plan. Discovery+ costs $7 for an ad-free plan and $5 for an ad-supported plan.
The combination of the two services will create an even more nightmarish one, which includes Discovery’s vast library of unscripted content along with Max’s collection of iconic TV and movies.
However, this week speculations about Max’s future intensified.
Diversity reported that six particular movies were quietly taken off the service this week (they’re still available to rent on the video-on-demand platform). And Warner Bros. Discovery canceled the release of the movie “Batgirl” made for Max.
The decisions reflect how Warner Bros. Discovery’s streaming strategy is very different than the WarnerMedia regime: fewer straight-to-streaming movies and more theatrical releases.
On Thursday’s earnings call, CEO David Zaslav said the company will “fully embrace the dramatic” as it “creates word-of-mouth buzz as movies transition to streaming and beyond.”
But based on the timeline set Thursday by Warner Bros. Discovery, it looks like Max won’t be changing much any time soon.