HBO Max and Discovery+ unveiled a merged mega-streaming service called Max on Wednesday, marking a crucial move for Warner Bros. Discovery as the conglomerate vies for more subscribers following a major merger and a rocky year for streaming services.
Discovery+ and HBO Max will merge into a streaming service called Max.
With the slogan ‘The One to Watch,” Max intends to combine HBO Max’s scripted shows and movies, Discovery+’s unscripted reality TV and Warner Brothers’ collection of children’s content to cater to “every member of the household,” Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said during a press event Wednesday.
The new service is scheduled to launch May 23.
The subscription price will be tiered at $10 for a monthly subscription with ads, and $16 per month for an ad-free version, the same as HBO Max’s current options.
While HBO Max will become a super-service combining both providers’ offerings, Discovery+—currently priced at $4.99 a month with ads—will remain a separate, lower-tiered entity that users can subscribe to if they’re uninterested in HBO’s scripted content, a change from the company’s original plan to scrap Discovery+ altogether.
On May 23, HBO Max will automatically update to Max for most users, maintaining subscribers’ passwords, billing and watch history, while Discovery+ users will have to up their subscriptions if they want to watch HBO’s scripted series like Succession and The Last of Us.
The new service was created in a “time of transition for the streaming industry,” Warner Bros. Discovery Global CEO Jean-Briac Perrette said, and is designed to simplify user experience by consolidating content for all demographics in one place.
One major area of change will be adding more kids-oriented content, including Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes and Sesame Street, and product features to cater toward children.
Warner Bros. Discovery hopes to reach 130 million subscribers across HBO Max and Discovery+ by 2025—it’s currently at about 96.1 million globally.
There’s a lot riding on the mega-streaming service, which was a major selling point in a $43 billion merger of Discovery and HBO Max’s parent company WarnerMedia (previously owned by AT&T), which formed conglomerate Warner Bros. Discovery in April 2022. Many of the company’s top competitors like Disney, NBCUniversal and Paramount Global have invested heavily in streaming services in recent years as viewers migrate away from traditional TV. The year since the Discovery-Warner merger has been a rocky one for television streaming, with Netflix reporting last summer it had lost almost a million subscribers, though it reversed those declines in the second half of 2022. Warner Bros. Discovery also executed some major layoffs in 2022, including cutting 14% of HBO Max staff and 26% of Warner Bros. Television Group workers, and its share price has fallen 42% in the last year despite recovering from a low point in December. A focus on the bottom line over bells and whistles will reportedly be reflected in Max’s unveiling, which will include marketing plans, technological upgrades and some series and movie announcements, a far cry from the star-studded launch of other streaming services like Apple TV+ in 2019.
‘Succession’ and ‘Dr. Pimple Popper’ Together in New Warner Streaming App (New York Times)
Warner Bros. Discovery CEO Finding A Lot Of Skeletons In The Financial Closet (Forbes)