Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD 0.46%) has announced it will merge its HBO Max and Discovery+ services into a new offering next summer. The company has yet to provide a name for the unified streamer, but promises it will combine the best of both platforms.
HBO Max has superheroes and mature content
When HBO Max launched in May 2020, the streamer had the benefit of having well-regarded HBO shows such as The Sopranos, Veep, and Game of Thrones to help it out the gate. Since that time, the service has continued to offer customers premium content with the likes of White Lotus, Avenue 5, and Peacemaker. And speaking of superhero content, HBO Max is now the streaming home for DC movies after they've completed their theatrical runs, so subscribers have access to films like Joker and Wonder Woman 1984.
Disney+ has a significant slate of superhero content with Loki, Ms. Marvel, and the many other Marvel movies and shows. But when it comes to more adult-focused drama, it has less to offer. Indeed, when Disney+ was announced in 2019, it focused on content PG-13 and below. The company has since made a more adult turn by adding the Deadpool franchise and Logan to Disney+, but it's hard to imagine it will ever carry something akin to The Wire or Magic Mike XXL.
Netflix has plenty of mature programming such as the award-winning Ozark and Peaky Blinders, but it has struggled to make a name for itself with comic-book material. The company recently launched a show based on DC graphic novel Sandman, and it released the show Jupiter's Legacy, based on Millarworld superhero comics, last year -- though Netflix canceled it after a single season.
Discovery+ has lots of reality shows and documentaries
Both Netflix and Disney+ offer customers a broad array of unscripted content. Netflix has hundreds of documentaries and many reality TV shows. Disney+ viewers have access to National Geographic programming, and Hulu -- which is available to Disney Bundle subscribers -- features a whole swath of reality shows.
The Discovery brand built its name on unscripted content, so when Discovery+ launched in January 2021, the streamer was able to take advantage of a vast back catalog. Indeed, Discovery+ promises subscribers access to 70,000 episodes, along with hundreds of hours of exclusive programming.
But perhaps the most important detail in all of this is that, of Warner Bros. Discovery's 92 million streaming customers, only 24 million are Discovery+ subscribers. When HBO Max and Discovery+ merge, tens of millions of households will have access to all that additional unscripted content.
Skeptics might suggest that the quality of content matters more than the quantity, and that's a reasonable argument. But considering Warner Bros. Discovery will soon offer subscribers some of their most beloved TV shows and movies alongside thousands of hours of unscripted programming, it will surely make for a compelling offering.
Warner Bros. Discovery hasn't yet explained how HBO Max and Discovery+ will look as a single platform, or what it will cost. HBO Max's ad-free tier is $14.99 per month, while ad-free Discovery+ costs $6.99 per month. However, if Warner Bros. Discovery is prepared to take a haircut on the price and pitch it at $20 per month, then it would sit at the same price as both the Disney Bundle and Netflix's top tier -- only adding to the competition.