- HBO Max and Discovery+ will be combined into one service.
- Warner Bros. Discovery has announced that it plans to launch the new streaming service in the summer of 2023.
- He cited how the services cater to different demographics and would complement each other.
It was inevitable: HBO Max and Discovery+ are coming together.
Warner Bros. Discovery announced details of the plan during its second-quarter earnings call Thursday, its first quarter as a company. The move was widely expected since WarnerMedia and Discovery completed their highly successful merger earlier this year.
The company plans to launch the new service first in the US next summer. It plans to gain 135 million global subscribers by 2025. It did not announce pricing details.
However, Warner Bros. Discovery detailed how it sees each service and how they would complement each other.
He said HBO Max skews men, specializes in scripted and dating content, and is the “home of fans.”
Discovery+, meanwhile, skews female, focuses on unscripted programming and comfortable viewing, and is more about “genres” than “fandoms.”
Max initially struggled to convert existing HBO subscribers when it launched, but has since established itself as a strong streaming player. Max added 3 million subscribers in the first quarter of the year, the last quarter under previous corporate parent AT&T — bringing total combined Max and HBO customers to 76.8 million. Discovery had reported that Discovery+ had 24 million subscribers by the end of Q1.
But on Thursday, Warner Bros. Discovery said it had 92.1 million subscribers across all its platforms (HBO, Max and Discovery+) and does not break down the numbers by service. By the end of Q1, the services would have more than 100 million subscribers combined.
Warner Bros. Discovery said that’s because it didn’t include “10 million non-core legacy Discovery subscribers and unactivated AT&T Mobility subscribers from the first quarter subscriber count.” Based on that, the company said it added 1.7 million global subscribers in the quarter.
Max currently costs $15 per month for the ad-free plan and $10 per month for the ad-supported plan. Discovery+ costs $7 for the ad-free plan and $5 for the ad-supported plan.
Combining the two services would create an even more valuable streamer, adding Discovery’s extensive library of unscripted content to Max’s collection of prestige TV and movies.
However, speculation about Max’s future has swirled this week.
Variety reported that six exclusive films were quietly removed from the service this week (they are still available to rent on video-on-demand platforms). And Warner Bros. Discovery canceled the release of a “Batgirl” movie intended for Max.
The decisions reflect how the streaming strategy of Warner Bros. Discovery is very different from the WarnerMedia regime: fewer direct streaming movies and more theatrical releases.
On Thursday’s earnings call, CEO David Zaslav said the company will “fully embrace the theater” because it is “generating word of mouth as movies move from streaming and beyond.”
The company is also looking to cut costs wherever possible to appease Wall Street and is expected to take a tax cut for “Batgirl,” which cost $90 million to make, according to Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.
But based on the timeline set by Warner Bros. Discovery on Thursday, it looks like Max won’t be changing too drastically anytime soon.