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.
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.
For those confused like I was, HBO and HBO Max shows are separate. HBO original shows like Euphoria and the upcoming House of the Dragon and The Last of Us are safe. Only shows made for Max will be cut.
— Machavelli (@Machavellixx) August 3, 2022
The crumbling of HBO Max before our eyes is infuriating. Not because we should love HBO unconditionally but because the service has easily the best library of classic shows and movies AND daring originals that never feel like they're made by algorithms.
— Eric Francisco (@EricFrancisco24) August 3, 2022