The combined HBO Max and Discovery+ platform will debut sooner than expected. It was set to launch in summer 2023, but it has now been moved up to spring 2023, Warner Bros. Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav said Thursday. Zaslav and other executives shared more details about changes coming to the services during the company's third-quarter earnings call.
"We expect a healthy inflection with the launch of our combined service and expanded global footprint," Zaslav said, reports Deadline. "With that, we are excited to announce that we have moved up our U.S. launch date from the summer of 2023 to spring. We've been very hard at work. We can make the service available to consumers around the globe and get the business running on all cylinders."
Warner Bros. Discovery reported adding 3 million global direct-to-consumer subscribers during the most recent quarter, bringing the total to 94.9 million. Zaslav said the combined HBO Max/Discovery+ service will launch in Latin America after the U.S. European markets will finally see the service, which still does not have a name, in 2024.
Warner Bros. Discovery streaming and games CEO J.B. Perrette was left to share some disappointing news. Although HBO Max has not seen prices climb since it launched in May 2020, Perrette said prices will be heading "north," reports Deadline. He also predicted that HBO Max With Ads subscribers will soon be seeing more ads.
Perrette said the company sees the inevitable price increase as "an opportunity, particularly in this environment." He noted inflation and the increased costs of doing business with streaming players, including Apple. HBO Max launched at $15 per month, which made it one of the most expensive streamers in the market. That status has since been eclipsed by Netflix, which is offering its most popular tier at $15.49 now. Perrette offered no precise prediction of what the new HBO Max/Discovery+ cost will be, but he believed the platform could remain competitive by offering a wider variety of content that can appeal to every member of a household.
When it came to the HBO Max With Ads platform, Perrette refused to say how many of the company's subscribers are only going with that cheaper option. Instead, he noted that the company sees few subscribers trade down to the ad-supported platform.
"We were frankly a little surprised in the HBO Max 'ad-light' offering that more people have not moved to that offering," he said. "I think it says two things, which are both positive for us. No. 1, we believe there's actually some pricing advantage for us on the ad-free service, that we can probably move north of where prices are today, and secondarily that we can drive – particularly as we bring the products together – a lot more adoption of that 'ad-light' tier, as we saw with the legacy Discovery+ product."