Discovery shareholders gleefully approved their company’s $43 billion acquisition of WarnerMedia from AT&T to create a new mass media monstrosity called Warner Bros. Discovery last week, and now, Variety has word on one of the bigger changes that the merger will bring. Rather than remain separate and offered in a bundle deal, Discovery has confirmed that the company’s streaming services, HBO Max and Discovery Plus, will eventually be combined into one service, something that might interest users who have an odd propensity for jumping between wildly different shows such as Sopranos and Shark Week. Pricing details are yet to come, but Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels confirmed that both ad-free and ad-lite options would be available for users.
“One of the most important items here is that we believe in a combined product as opposed to a bundle,” Wiedenfels said, confirming Discovery’s plan to merge HBO Max and Discovery Plus. “We believe that the breadth and depth of this content offering is going to be a phenomenal consumer value proposition.”
“The question is, in order to get to that point and do it in a way that’s actually a great user experience for our subscribers, that’s going to take some time,” he added before some indication as to when the new streaming platform might debut.
“Again, that’s nothing that’s going to happen in weeks — hopefully not in years, but in several months — and we will start working on an interim solution in the meantime. So right out of the gate, we’re working on getting the bundling approach ready, maybe a single sign-on, maybe ingesting content into the other product, etc., so that we can start to get some benefits early on. But the main thrust is going to be harmonizing the technology platform. Building one very, very strong combined direct-to-consumer product and platform, that’s going to take a while.”
HBO Max and Discovery Plus Will Be Combined Into One Platform (Variety)
- Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels, who will also serve as CFO of the newly combined Warner Bros. Discovery, said Monday during the Deutsche Bank 30th Annual Media, Internet & Telecom Conference that Discovery is making preparations to combine the two streamers, marking the first time the company has actually revealed its post-merger strategy for Discovery Plus and HBO Max, amid speculation they could remain solo platforms with bundling options.
- Discovery Plus currently costs $4.99 per month with ads or $6.99 without ads and accounts for the bulk of Discovery’s streaming sub total, which the company reported to be 22 million worldwide customers at the end of 2021. For HBO Max and HBO, last year ended with a combined 73.8 million global subscribers. HBO Max is priced at $9.99 per month with ads and $14.99 a month as an ad-free service.
- Per Wiedenfels, the $43 billion Discovery-WarnerMedia deal is still set to close early in the second quarter, following Friday’s approval vote from Discovery shareholders.