HBO Max and Discovery+ will merge into a single streaming platform from 2023
HBO Max and Discovery+ will merge into a single brand beginning in the summer of 2023. In a second quarter 2022 earnings webcast, Warner Bros. Discovery has detailed its expansion plans, following a merger earlier this year. The currently unnamed platform, led by CEO David Zaslav, will release in the US first, after which it will move to other regions. “When it comes to streaming, our main priority right now is to launch an integrated SVOD [subscription video on demand] service,” he said. “Our streaming strategy has evolved over the past year and truly reflects the importance rather than reliance on this segment of our global content monetization plan.”
According to expansion plans drawn up by Warner Bros. Discovery, US citizens are getting the first treatment in the summer of 2023, as HBO Max originally launched there. Latin America will get the overwritten version in fall 2023, while Europe will get its share in early 2024. Both regions got access to HBO Max months after the initial launch, the latter (Europe) being limited to a handful of countries.
Currently, there is no mention of countries, but the presentation notes seven markets in the Asia-Pacific region, which will have access to the new streaming platform in mid-2024. While Discovery+ has been around in India for quite a while, there has been no news of an HBO Max launch in India. A leaked survey from the WarnerMedia-owned company suggested pricing, but that was a moot point as HBO Max remains focused on Europe and other markets at this time. For now, HBO Max has signed a deal with Amazon Prime Video in India.
The Discovery+ and HBO Max mega-merger will also expand into fall 2023 in four new, unnamed markets. As of now, there’s no word on pricing or the subscription system, but the company is exploring multiple tiers within them. The product is marketed as “efficient, scalable and resilient”, bringing the “best of both” platforms to smart devices. Modular capabilities include both on-demand and live broadcasts, with tiered sports content. As for the basic plans, they will vary between ad-free, ad-lite, and ad-only options, with the latter being the cheaper alternative.
The Discovery and WarnerMedia merger was announced in May, with AT&T pulling out of the entertainment business. As AT&T focuses on building 5G towers in the US, selling WB secures cash flow. Warner Bros. Discovery was expected to spend $20 billion (about Rs. 1,46,425 crores) on content every year, which is more than Disney and Netflix spend.
As part of the merger, the studio also canceled Wonder Twins, bat girl, and Scoob! Holiday Haunt, because the movies didn’t match their vision to maximize results. Reports suggest that bat girl was in the final stages of post-production, during which it went through a private screen test to emerge as an “unsalvageable” film.
The studio will also shift the focus to theatrical releases instead of streaming, with a 10-year “reset” plan planned for DC Comics films.
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