HBO Max and Discovery+ Are Combining Into One Service: What This Means for You

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  • Discovery acquired WarnerMedia from AT&T this past April, to form Warner Bros. Discovery, one of the largest media companies.
  • CEO David Zaslav announced the future merger of HBO Max and Discovery+ in summer 2023, as part of their strategy to maximize their viewership.
  • The new single platform will offer an array of movies and TV shows from HBO and reality programs from the Food Network and HGTV.

How will HBO Max be impacted by its merger with Discovery+?

Enjoy watching Game of Thrones, the DC Superhero movies, and Harry Potter? You can watch them on HBO Max now, but this time next year HBO Max will be no more. Warner Brothers, the parent company for both HBO Max and Discovery+, announced that both streaming services will merge into one. If you are a subscriber like me, what does this mean for you?

New streaming service by summer 2023

This past April Discovery acquired WarnerMedia from AT&T, forming Warner Bros. Discovery, one of the largest media companies. The new company now owns HBO, CNN, TBS, TNT, Discovery's cable networks like Food Network, HGTV and TLC, and movie/TV studio Warner Brothers.

David Zaslav, CEO of the newly formed company, announced the future merger of HBO Max and Discovery+ as part of their strategy to maximize their reach to viewers. Zaslav stated that the launch in the U.S. would be in summer of 2023 and other regions would follow in 2024. Since taking over as CEO, Zaslav has shaken things up by canceling CNN+ and shelving Batgirl, DC Comics' Wonder Twins and Scoob!: Holiday Haunt. Zaslav also said that the company would release certain films in theaters first, instead of making them available on streaming platforms at the same time.

This is in line with some of his top priorities, which is to launch an integrated streaming service and save $3 billion. To reach its goal of 130 million global subscribers by 2025, the company is considering offering a free, ad-supported version of the combined streaming platform. The monthly subscription cost of the upcoming combined streaming service has not been released yet.

Who is winning the streaming wars?

Netflix changed the industry when it launched its streaming service. After being the king of streaming services for years, it was toppled for the first time this year. Disney+ (bundled with Hulu and ESPN) dethroned Netflix from its top spot. Here's how the most recent numbers stack up:

  • Disney+ Bundle: 221.1 million for the company's fiscal third quarter, which ended in June
  • Netflix: 220.67 million global subscribers as of June
  • HBO, HBO Max and Discovery+: 92.1 million subscribers in June
  • Paramount+: 43 million subscribers in June
  • Peacock: 13 million paid subscribers, 27 million active accounts (including free users)

Warner Bros. Discovery will be making this move while under stiffer competition. While we may only think of the large streaming services, there are more than 200 platforms available around the world. With more competition, loyalty among subscribers is on the decline. After seeing continual growth, Netflix lost nearly 1 million subscribers in the second quarter of 2022.

During the pandemic, households subscribed to multiple streaming services. They have become more cost conscious, with more families opting to cancel one and sign up for another service that carries the shows they want to watch. According to research from NPD Group's TV Switching Study, the number of streaming services per user in the U.S. reached 4.6 in April 2022, down from the mid-pandemic peak of 5.2 in October 2020.

HBO Max and Discovery+ have complementary content that may result in more loyal subscribers. HBO hosts a considerable number of movies and shows, including Friends and the film catalog from Turner Classic Movies. Discovery+ will offer more reality programs that are popular on channels such as HGTV and the Food Network. It's going to be up to the consumer to decide where their streaming service dollars will go.

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