HBO Max is merging with Discovery+ next summer, which doesn’t make sense


I heard this news on Twitter that HBO Max and Discovery+ are becoming one streaming platform. I didn’t fully understand it, except that the HBO Max streaming content will be folded into Discovery+ with this merger. Standard HBO shows, like Succession, Euphoria, The White Lotus, Hacks, will remain on HBO proper. Discovery+ is getting the HBO Max unique content including series and reality shows like FBoy Island, Selena + Chef and Expecting Amy. This merger is set to take place in the summer of 2023. This Variety article explained a few things for me about it, and they have the same parent company.

Is the whole of a combined HBO Max-Discovery+ greater than its streaming parts? Warner Bros. Discovery is going to find out next year.

The media company announced a timeline for the two services to be fused together: HBO Max and Discovery+ will launch in the U.S. as a single service in the summer of 2023, according to JB Perrette, CEO and president of global streaming and games for Warner Bros. Discovery, speaking on the company’s Q2 earnings call.

“At the end of the day, putting all the content together was the only way we saw to make this a viable business,” Perrette told analysts. Bringing HBO Max and Discovery+ together is aimed at cutting churn so “there’s something for everyone in the household,” he said.

WBD did not announce what the new brand name for the merged service will be, nor did execs discuss pricing for the unified streamer. Warner Bros. Discovery is initially focused on the ad-supported and ad-free versions of the combined HBO Max-Discovery+, Perrette said, but is also “exploring how to reach customers in the free, ad-supported space” with content that is totally different from what’s on the premium VOD services.

HBO may or may not be part of the name of the unified direct-to-consumer WBD platform; Perrette said he company is doing research on consumer perception of the HBO Max name. But, HBO will continue to be a major brand: “HBO will always be the beacon and the ultimate brand that stands for television quality,” he said on the call.

The merged HBO Max-Discovery+ will combine the best elements of both services, said Perrette. He said HBO Max has had “performance and customer issues” but offers a rich set of features; Discovery+ has more limited features but provides a more robust underlying delivery infrastructure.

After the summer 2023 rollout in the United States, WBD plans to take the unified HBO Max-Discovery+ platform to Latin America in the fall of 2023; Europe in early 2024; Asia Pacific in mid-2024; and additional markets in fall 2024.

[From Variety]

As someone who subscribes to both Discovery+ and HBO Max, I’m sort-of OK with this. I’ve experienced outages on HBO Max, particularly when trying to stream the finale of Mare of Easttown. The fact that the WB CEO mentioned that Discovery+ has a better backend explains a lot about the merger. This doesn’t make sense to me from a branding position, but it does from a technical one. Discovery+ is also easier to navigate and find content. I’m really pleased with that service. While I like HBO Max, the interface makes it tricky to find something I’m interested in. Like I come to HBO Max with a particular show I want to watch, I can open Discovery+ and find something to entertain me.

I truly wonder what will happen with HBO proper’s share of the Criterion Collection of classic films. We watch those so often and I hope this merger doesn’t affect that. I haven’t been able to find out about that so I would guess that there are details they haven’t worked out yet.

The fact that this is my job and I find this confusing doesn’t bode well for this merger. It took me a while to figure out what the hell HBO Max was and now that they have brand recognition they’re changing it again! Then again, a lot of things confuse me.

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18 Responses to “HBO Max is merging with Discovery+ next summer, which doesn’t make sense”

  1. Lucy says:

    I work in TV, and there’s been a sense for a long time that HBO and HBO Max were inevitably going to collapse into each other, because there were redundancies there that didn’t make sense… like, why have two completely separate development teams, one at HBO and HBO Max, doing exactly the same thing? From that perspective, yesterday’s announcement made sense to me. My sense is that this announcement means eventually all the scripted content will be on HBO, and the new HBO Max+Discovery hybrid will be pretty much all unscripted.

    • notasugarhere says:

      The Boards may see the future as streaming – not any form of subscription cable tied to your internet package. John C Malone, one of the biggies with LionsGate, WB, Discovery, Discovery+? He had ambitions to develop a major streaming platform for LionsGate solo a few years before the other mergers. If they’re putting all eggs in the streaming basket in the future, the move makes more sense.

  2. Bettyrose says:

    I have Discovery+ because I’m addicted to HGTV, but the platform feels like a dumping ground for content. I haven’t even scratched the surface of what’s on there. I’m fine with two services I’m paying for merging into one but it seems like a lot will get lost in the sea of content it will become.

    • L84Tea says:

      Discovery+ is where I watch all of my beloved old reruns of the Food Network shows that taught me how to cook in the early 2000’s. As long as they don’t mess with those, I don’t care what they do.

    • Dutch says:

      They said on the call yesterday that there’s not a lot of overlap between the subscriber bases, which I don’t think bodes well for HBO. I certainly am not going to subscribe to this combined service year-round if it leans heavily into the kind of unscripted content I have no interest in and the pipeline of HBO-quality scripted stuff dries up (which seems like the direction it is headed).

  3. Leslie says:

    But will I be able to watch HBO shows on the new merged platform? Because if not then I guess I won’t watch their shows anymore. I’m not getting cable just to pay extra for HBO

    • Haylie says:

      This. I’m not paying for two separate services. I’ll forego streaming services and find other uses for my time because they are all doing way too much.

    • Chanteloup says:

      @Leslie That’s exactly what I’m saying.

    • Dutch says:

      Speculation is that HBO will become a hub on the Discovery+ platform. It might still keep the HBO brand in the new name, but it’s hard to say. The larger concern is what will HBO look like down the road when current hits like Succession, Euphoria, Hacks, etc., run their course. Early signs aren’t good with scripted content essentially dying at TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network.
      Are these good HBO shows going to be replaced with scripted content of similar quality or will be it be glossier versions of the unscripted content current management seems to prefer? I can see a ton of HBO subscribers jumping ship if HBO becomes a shell of its former self.

  4. TwinFalls says:

    Good bye HBO Max. It was fun while it lasted. I really liked Hacks and season one of Flight Attendant but I can see why that wouldn’t be enough. As long as I can find Succession season 4 when it comes out I don’t care about the rest.

  5. Case says:

    Honestly, I just hope they preserve HBO Max’s wonderful back catalog of films. It’s my go-to for classics and they have a great TCM hub.

    Was infuriated to see slides from yesterday’s presentation describing HBO content as “male skewed” and Discovery content as “female skewed.” Disgusting, and I really worry that this leadership team is viewing its offerings from the lens of someone who hasn’t watched TV in 20 years.

    • Bettyrose says:

      WTaF? We’re gendering streaming services now? Do all the money people in Hollywood live in dusty old mansions filled with cob webs where they wander the halls crying about how they used to matter?

      • Case says:

        Yeah it was disturbing, basically like “serious shows are for BOYS and silly home makeover shows are for GIRLS.” I can’t even.

    • Gizmo’sMa says:

      That presentation slide made me see red! WTF? Who thought that was a good idea to put that out?

      That slide confirmed what I was talking about on the Batgirl post yesterday. The higher ups are moving away from inclusion and towards catering to Fandom!!

      • TwinFalls says:

        Gross.

      • TwinFalls says:

        I canceled my HBO Max subscription. Something so obviously misogynistic doesn’t get a pass. I know it is only meaningful to me sort of like Neil Young and Spotify but it felt good.

  6. Lauren42 says:

    I’m having such trouble wrapping my head around this, for some reason. Maybe I need more coffee. So… we have both services. I am a total sucker for all the Alaska gold shows and Expedition Unknown on D+, and then I am a big fan of old HBO shows like TrueBlood and Rome that are currently on HBO Max. Should I hurry up with my rewatches of those old shows before they disappear into HBO proper next year?

  7. TEALIEF says:

    Conversely, what will be the new streaming service for HBO proper? It was HBO Go, which morphed into HBO Max, which had TCM and Adult Swim content that I watched. What’s going to happen with the “HBO Max Hubs”?  I’m personally disinclined to subscribe to another service because I have cable, and a few streaming services. I don’t subscribe to Discovery+. This is becoming too much for the eyes and the wallet.

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