Warner Bros Reportedly Abandons Plan to Merge HBO Max and Discovery+
Warner Bros. Discovery has reportedly reconsidered the most controversial move of its merger – combining HBO Max and Discovery+ into one big streaming service. The company announced this plan last year and it has since been blamed for some of the biggest cancellations at the company, but according to a report by The Wall Street Journal, that is no longer the plan. Instead, insiders say that executives want to keep Discovery+ independent so that it will be as cheap as possible for subscribers.
Sources familiar with the discussions among Warner Bros. Discovery executives say that they have become fearful of losing Discovery+ subscribers if the price should rise. At the time of this writing, Discovery+ on its own costs $5 per month with ads and $7 without ads, while HBO Max costs $10 per month with ads and $16 per month without them. Combining these two catalogs would presumably change that price, but as many critics have pointed out, the crossover in viewership may not be that great. They now want customers to retain the option to subscribe to Discovery+ at a cheap price for its reality TV alone.
The new plan is reportedly to leave Discovery+ as it is while unveiling a new bundle service that will combine HBO Max, Discovery+ and the rest of the company's offerings. Insiders say that this new bundle will probably be branded as "Max," but so far that hasn't been confirmed. This name is reportedly meant to evoke the broad array of offerings on the app as well as its roots in the premium cable world.
As for the price, that is reportedly a major concern for those involved. Execs are worried about potential subscribers avoiding their new service due to inflation, or simply because it adds another bill to their growing budget for streaming services. The company hopes to balance its premium streaming offerings with more ad-supported offerings, including its recent licensing deals with Roku and Tubi, which are free to watch thanks to their ad revenue.
While HBO Max may still be undergoing some changes, the fact that it won't be outright combined with Discovery+ will likely be a relief to some fans – particularly movie buffs. Since its launch in 2020, HBO Max has gained a favorable reputation compared to other streamers of scripted content. Its deep catalog of movies and prestige TV shows as well as its weekly release strategy for new series both made it a favorite in spite of its high price tag, but the idea of sacrificing that quality for easy reality TV profits has garnered some vocal criticism online. Thankfully, it now sounds like it may not work out that way.