Earlier this year, AT&T sold its Warner Bros. media division to Discovery Inc, and one of the combined company’s goals is to merge their streaming services. Now it could happen sooner than expected.
Warner Bros Discovery said back in August that it planned to merge the HBO Max and Discovery+ streaming services into one combined service, starting in summer 2023 in the United States. However, that timeline has now been moved up to spring 2023, according to CEO David Zaslav on the latest earnings call.
The new show Fixer Upper: The Castle was a test to see how the “reality” content that makes up most of the library of Discovery+ would do on HBO Max. Even though it was also available on the Magnolia Network and Discovery Plus, it quickly jumped into the top five most watched shows on HBO Max.
The exact method of the merger is still unclear, such as which app will be automatically updated to the new unified service, or if it will require a new download. Pricing is also still not public, but Discovery Inc said earlier this year there would be “ad-free, ad-lite, and ad-only options.” HBO Max is already one of the most expensive streaming services, at $14.99 per month without ads, though paying for an entire year at once is 16% cheaper. Discovery+ is much less expensive, since it doesn’t have much big-budget content — the base plan is $4.99/mo, and the ad-free plan is $6.99/mo.
Streaming services are in a transition period right now, as many of them try to entice new subscribers while also raising prices during global economic inflation. Netflix just launched a new cheaper plan with advertisements, after years of slowly raising prices on its ad-free subscriptions. Disney+ and Hulu will raise prices next month, at the same time as Disney+ will introduce a cheaper plan with ads.
Source: The Verge
Note: The author of this article owns stock in Warner Bros. Discovery.