The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, today reports that Warner Bros. Discovery has changed plans to completely merge the Discovery+ streaming service with HBO Max and instead will allow the former to live on as a separate subscription.
Official details about the new service remain extremely scarce, including what it’ll be called. But it’s still in the works, and WSJ says that the plan is for Discovery+ to remain as a lower-cost option with less content. The new service would include Discovery content alongside HBO content, plus more from the greater Warner Bros. catalog, and is expected to be available later this year.
From the WSJ story: “The decision to keep Discovery+ is part of an effort to avoid risking losing a significant chunk of the app’s 20 million subscribers who might not want to pay the higher price to access that content, according to the people familiar with the matter.”
So instead of one new service to rule them all, it’ll be one new service to rule them all, as well as Discovery+. No word yet on how pricing will suss out, either. Currently, Discovery+ is $5 a month with ads, or $7 a month without. HBO Max costs $10 a month with ads and $16 a month without. Those HBO Max prices reflect the first increase in the history of the service.
If that all sounds a little confusing, it is, born from the drama of AT&T owning Warner Bros. and creating WarnerMedia, then offloading it into this new Warner Bros. Discovery entity, with new executives and new strategies, but a more unified tech platform. The changes also have led to a veritable bloodbath of content, with upcoming shows and movies being killed before ever being seen, current shows getting the axe, and other on-demand fare being removed from the platform altogether.
And to leave no revenue stone unturned, the WSJ report also says that Warner Bros. Discovery is working on a free ad-supported service (that’s known as FAST, in industry parlance) a la Tubi or The Roku Channel that would scoop up even more eyeballs. Complicating that a little maybe Warner Bros. Discovery just signed a deal with Tubi that adds 14 Warner Bros.-branded channels and more than 2,000 hours of movies and shows to the Fox-owned Tubi, including some HBO series that were removed from the service, including Westworld, Raised by Wolves, The Nevers, and more.
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