Warner Bros. Discovery Ends Plan to Combine HBO Max and Discovery+

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Image: Warner Bros. Discovery

Warner Bros. Discovery had been planning to turn HBO Max and Discovery+ into a single streaming service, but that doesn’t appear to be happening any longer. According to an initial report from The Wall Street Journal that has since been verified by Deadline’s sources, the entertainment giant is now planning to keep Discovery+, a streaming service that includes content from Discovery’s various brands (e.g., Animal Planet, History), as a standalone product over concerns that subscribers may not want to move to a bigger, pricier platform. HBO Max is expected to undergo a rebrand to “Max,” a change meant to better reflect its broad catalog of content.

From a WSJ report (alternate link):

The move comes as Warner Discovery is close to launching a new, yet-to-be named supersized streaming service amid increased competition and in an uncertain economic environment.

Instead of combining HBO Max and Discovery+ in their entirety, the new platform will feature HBO Max content and most Discovery+ content, with Discovery+ remaining available as a stand-alone option, some of the people said.

The decision to keep Discovery+ is part of an effort to avoid risking losing a significant chunk of the app’s 20 million subscribers who might not want to pay the higher price to access that content, according to the people familiar with the matter.

From a Deadline report:

Insiders confirmed the strategic shift with Deadline after it was initially reported by The Wall Street Journal. The WSJ cited unidentified people familiar with the decision, saying they felt Discovery+ subscribers could balk at paying a higher price for a combined service.

The plan now is to continue to have Discovery+ remain available even as a newly rebranded combo service hits the market in the spring. It is widely expected that HBO Max will be renamed Max, reflecting its broader subscriber orientation and ambitions to transcend its premium-cable roots. Pricing is one consideration, especially with consumers responding to inflation and the proliferation of streaming services in recent years. At $16, HBO Max is already at the high end of the market, having recently leapfrogged the most popular tier of Netflix in the U.S.

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Tsing Mui
News poster at The FPS Review.

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