Warner Bros. Discovery has slightly changed its plan to combine HBO Max and Discovery Plus into one super streamer.
Behind Wall Street Journal (opens in a new tab) (WSJ), Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) has decided to keep Discovery Plus as a standalone streaming service amid concerns about losing a large portion of Discovery Plus’s 20 million user base.
According to WSJ sources, WBD is still planning to launch its super-sized replacement for HBO Max, which would still see the more popular streaming platform merge with Discovery Plus. However, WBD will continue to offer Discovery Plus as a standalone option for anyone who doesn’t want to sign up for the upcoming service.
After the merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery Inc. in April 2022, a newly formed entertainment corporation developed a plan to streamline its streaming platforms into a single entity. Industry insiders have suggested that the new service will be simply called “Max”, which will combine HBO Max and Discovery Plus into one platform before the end of 2023. WBD has yet to comment on rumors about the official name of the service.
However, it is now believed that WBD has changed its strategy. Instead, the company plans to put the entire previous HBO Max catalog – including the best HBO Max shows and the best HBO Max movies – on its new platform, along with most Discovery Plus content. Discovery Plus will remain a standalone option for existing and new subscribers as well, and will only feature the streamer’s TV series, movies and documentaries.
Sources close to the situation claim that the WBD return is a result of Discovery Plus’s cost-effectiveness. Currently, the Discovery streaming service offers two subscription tiers – an ad-supported subscription ($4.99 per month) and an ad-free tier ($6.99 per month). In contrast, HBO Max’s ad-based tier sets customers back $9.99 a month, while a monthly subscription costs $15.99 a month without ads.
Plus, Discovery Plus’s allegedly low operating costs and profitability – compared to HBO Max, anyway – is more likely to tempt customers looking to sign up for a cheap streamer. Next, WBD wants to provide consumers with more choice across price ranges, hence its purported decision to leave Discovery Plus as a standalone purchase.
Analysis: Will WBD’s New Super Streamer Be Successful?
WBD’s plan to create a new superstreamer is a bold move. Currently, the company boasts about 95 million subscribers combined on HBO Max and Discovery Plus. Very popular programs like Dragon House AND The last of us, has certainly increased the user base of the former in recent months. We’ll find out just how much both platforms’ subscriber bases have grown when WBD’s Q4 2022 phone call takes place in late February.
However, none of the services can compete alone with Netflix (230.75 million users) and Disney Plus (164.2 million). WBD’s desire to close this loophole appears to be the primary reason for the HBO Max and Discovery Plus merger.
However, doing so will be risky. The price of HBO Max has only increased once since the streamer’s launch in May 2020 – that $1 increase will take place on January 12 this year. With a new behemoth-style service set to replace HBO Max in the coming months, it’s likely WBD will be looking to maximize its profits. Therefore, registration on the new streaming platform will certainly be more expensive.
If so, users may decide it’s not worth the cash outlay. HBO Max, one of the world’s best streaming services, is packed with critically acclaimed and award-winning content. However, as we have seen with Netflix, customers cancel their subscriptions if they do not find it worthwhile. The number of TV series that Netflix canceled in the last 12 months followed by a sudden drop in subscribers shows that even the most popular entertainment companies are not immune to losing customers.
WBD will do well to heed these warnings and make their new streamer worth paying for (at a competitive price) and reap the rewards. If it doesn’t, its replacement HBO Max may fail before it even has a chance to succeed.
Despite the launch of the upcoming super streamer, it’s unclear if WBD will continue to offer HBO Max as a single platform. It is unknown if WBD will offer a bundle that includes the new streaming service AND Discovery Plus, after the announcement of a new streamer.
We reached out to WBD to comment on the WSJ report and whether HBO Max will also be offered as a standalone service. We’ll update this article if we get a response.
For more coverage of HBO Max, find out what are the best HBO Max documentaries. Also, read if a free trial of HBO Max is available.