Warner Bros. Discovery to Host Hybrid HBO Max/Discovery Streaming Unveil Media Event April 12

Warner Bros. Discovery March 30 announced that it would host a press event on April 12 at 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST) to discuss the upcoming enhanced direct-to-consumer streaming product.

The press event, which will be webcast for investors and the general public, promises to unveil a new hybrid HBO Max/Discovery+ subscription streaming service, including branding name. WBD has already disclosed that it plans to continuing offering standalone Discovery+ service to subscribers unwilling to pay more for the hybrid platform.

The media event comes as WBD, under the direction of CEO David Zaslav, is rejiggering its direct-to-consumer strategy to include diversity of distribution that includes embracing all content channels, including legacy branded theatrical and home entertainment, in addition to third-party free ad-supported platforms.

“Subscribers today are like clicks in the 1990s,” Zaslav told an investor event last November. “We want real subs that are going to pay real money. We’re not collapsing businesses [i.e., theatrical, home entertainment, etc.] because we are a diverse company. Optionality and the ability to move content around [different distribution channels] is one of the greatest opportunities of this company.”

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Report: Discovery+ to Remain Both Standalone and HBO Max Combined SVOD Service

Warner Bros. Discovery is set to launch a combined HBO Max/Discovery+ subscription streaming platform in the spring of this year. A new media report suggests that WBD will also continue operating Discovery+, which features content from HGTV, History Channel, Discovery, Food Network, Magnolia Network, A&E, Animal Planet, TLC, ID and Lifetime, among others, as a standalone streaming service.

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the situation, said the move is an effort by WBD management not to alienate too many of Discovery+’s 20 million direct-to-consumer subscribers unwilling to pay more for the combined Max platform.

Discovery+ currently costs $4.99 per month with ads and $6.99 without ads. Max costs $9.99 with ads and $15.99 without. The new combined offering would likely cost more than $16 monthly.

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WBD is looking to offer tiered subscription options — each with varying levels of access to content. The company is also planning to launch a free standalone ad-supported VOD platform. WBD recently licensed 2,000 hours of content — including “Westworld” — to The Roku Channel and Tubi.

Warner Bros. Discovery reports fourth-quarter fiscal results on Feb. 23.

Warner Bros. Discovery Ups Rebecca Rørmark to New Head of Streaming Marketing Position

Rebecca Rørmark

Warner Bros. Discovery has promoted longtime marketing executive Rebecca Rørmark to the newly created position Head of Streaming Marketing for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.

Based in Oslo, Norway, Rørmark reports to Patrizio Spagnoletto, global chief marketing officer for direct-to-consumer.

Rørmark is tasked with marketing the upcoming merger and launch of the HBO Max and Discovery+ streaming platforms. The combined SVOD platform is slated to launch in the U.S. and South America this year, followed by Europe in 2024.

Rørmark joined Discovery Networks Norway in 2013, becoming VP of marketing and PR following the merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery in 2021.

WBD Offering Discovery+ Streaming Service Free to Sky Pay-TV Subs

Eager to extend distribution of the Discovery+ subscription streaming platform in the United Kingdom and Ireland, Warner Bros. Discovery has inked a marketing deal with NBCUniversal-owned Sky Group offering all Sky pay-TV subscribers, including Sky Q, Sky Glass and Sky Stream, free access to Discovery+. The 12-month marketing campaign saves Sky subscribers £6.99 a month ($8.53).

Warner Bros. Discovery is set to unveil a new combined HBO Max/Discovery+ streaming platform this year.

“Through this offering we can bring our extensive real-life entertainment and exciting sports line-up, with the Australian Open starting today, to even more Sky customers,” Antonio Ruiz, GM of U.K. & Ireland Warner Bros. Discovery, said in a statement.

HBO Max Spotlights 2023 Content Lineup

HBO Max Dec. 21 announced a brand promotional spot showcasing new original and returning shows, including drama “The Last of Us,” debuting Jan. 15; limited series “White House Plumbers,” debuting in March; and “The Idol,” “True Detective: Night Country” and “Rain Dogs.” Featured Max Originals include the adult animated series “Velma,” coming Jan. 12; the limited series “Love & Death” and “Full Circle”; and the return of “Warrior.”

HBO Max is slated to meld its platform with Discovery+ next year reportedly under the “Max” standalone banner.

The spot also features returning shows, including HBO Original drama series “Succession,” “Perry Mason,” “The Gilded Age” and “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty,” as well as HBO Original comedies “Barry,” “Somebody Somewhere,” “The Righteous Gemstones” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Returning Max Originals include Emmy-winning comedy Hacks,” “And Just Like That …,” “Our Flag Means Death,” “Julia” and “The Other Two,” among others.

HBO/HBO Max earned 38 Emmys Awards in 2022, spearheaded by “The White Lotus,” and featured the the debuts of the HBO Original series and specials “House of the Dragon,” “The Rehearsal,” “Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel,” along with new seasons of “The White Lotus,” “Euphoria” and “Industry,” as well as Max Originals “Peacemaker,” “The Sex Lives of College Girls” and “Love, Lizzo,” among others.

Discovery+ Announces December Title Lineup

The Warner Bros. Discovery streaming service Discovery+ has announced new and original content in its December lineup. 

Dec. 1 comes The Santa Squad. In the title, Allie (Rebecca Dalton), an out-of-work art teacher, has to accept a job with the Santa Squad to help wealthy widower Gordon (Aaron Ashmore) and his two daughters rediscover the magic of Christmas.

Available Dec. 7  is “Vengeance: Killer Coworkers,” which follows the stories of victims who were killed by people they knew through work. 

Due Dec. 16 is “Hi I’m … Haaki Akdeniz,” which follows Hakki Akdeniz, who immigrated to America at the age of 21 with a few dollars to his name and no place to stay. Being in NYC in February, he slept in the cold for a few days until he found a homeless shelter where he lived for 96 days. He credits the people there with saving his life through kindness, which he tries to pay back as a now successful pizza entrepreneur. 

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Available Dec. 17 is “Jamie vs Britney: The Father Daughter Trials,” which explores the controversial conservatorship of pop star Britney Spears overseen by her father Jamie. 

Due Dec. 19 is season two of  “Deadliest Mums & Dads,” which tells the shocking stories of parents who kill their children. Family members and friends who knew both the victim and killer give candid and heartbreaking testimonies. Criminologists examine what led these parents to murder their children, and if it could have been stopped.

Available Dec. 27 is “Jose Andres & Family in Spain,” in which famed chef and humanitarian José Andrés and his Gen Z American daughters Carlota, Ines and Lucia embark on an epic family trip to rediscover their homeland.

HBO Max, Discovery+ Offering Black Friday Deals on Ad-Supported Tiers

Warner Bros. Discovery’s HBO Max and Discovery+ are offering Black Friday deals on their ad-supported tiers through Nov. 28.

For new and returning customers in the United States, the ad-supported tier of HBO Max will be offered at $1.99 per month for the first three months — equivalent to 80% off the regular price of the ad-supported tier.

The offer is available via HBOMax.com or through Apple, Amazon, Google Play and Roku. Vizio, PlayStation, LG, and Xbox devices also offer more information. 

Discovery+ will be available for 99 cents a month for the first three months of the ad-supported tier for new customers in the United States and Canada — equivalent to 80% off the current price of the ad-supported tier. 

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The offer is available via discoveryplus.com or through Apple, Amazon, Google Play and Roku. Viewers can also learn more about the offer on LG, Xbox, and Cox Contour devices.

HBO Max Adds Discovery+ Shows Ahead of Expedited Merged Platform

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s goal of melding streaming services HBO Max and Discovery+ into a singular platform by next spring took another step with the addition of new HGTV programming coming to Max on Nov. 9.

On the Nov. 3 fiscal call, Zaslav hinted the media giant would ramp up experiments of cross-promoting and streaming content from each platform on the other.

“While our team is hard at work preparing for the launch of our combined offering, we’re also actively experimenting and testing our hypotheses about the future product in large part to address some of the deficiencies of the existing platform,” he said.

HBO Max, HBO and Discovery+ ended Sept. 30 with 94.9 million combined subscribers, which included 2.8 million subs in the third quarter.

The new content includes seasons five and six of “Property Brothers: Forever Home,” starring home renovation stars Drew and Jonathan Scott. The two episodes of season seven that have already aired also will become available Nov. 9, while new episodes will be available on HGTV, Discovery+ and HBO Max throughout the rest of the season.

A curated collection of “Chopped” holiday programs also will be available to stream. The series is a cooking competition that is all about skill, speed and ingenuity where four up-and-coming chefs compete before three expert judges to take everyday items and turn them into an extraordinary three-course-meal.

Finally, seasons seven and eight of “Holiday Baking Championship,” totaling 21 hours of holiday baking skills and competition, will be available to stream starting Nov. 14. Host Jesse Palmer brings the holiday spice along with judges Nancy Fuller, Duff Goldman, and Carla Hall.

Max is also streaming content from the Magnolia Network (formerly DIY Network), featuring programming from Chip and Joanna Gaines.

Hybrid Discovery+/HBO Max Service Moves Up Launch to Spring 2023 — at a Likely Higher Price

Warner Bros. Discovery has moved up the launch of a hybrid HBO Max/Discovery+ streaming platform from summer 2023 to next spring.

Speaking during a Nov. 3 fiscal call, CEO David Zaslav said internal teams have been busy reconfiguring the separate platforms into a pending unified service that could appeal to multiple end users.

Specifically, Zaslav said streaming teams have been working on fixes to existing perceived Max shortcomings, including the lack of content recommendations at the end of a movie or show.

“An obvious way to drive further user engagement,” he said. “We are already starting rolling [recommendations] out and are already seeing promising engagement uplift.”

CEO David Zaslav

JB Perrette, CEO/president of Warner Bros. Discovery global streaming and interactive entertainment, said pricing on the new hybrid service is one of several aspects that makes management “particularly optimistic” about the services’ synergies going forward.

Indeed, Perrette said that by 2023 HBO Max would not have raised monthly prices since its launch in 2020 — a fact he says represents an opportunity in the current economic environment. In addition, he said international revenue per user is “meaningfully” lower than the market leaders.

“And for us, that spells opportunity and an ability [to raise prices] as the new product comes to market,” he said.

JB Perrette

HBO Max is currently priced at $14.99 monthly without ads, and $9.99 with advertising. Discovery+ is priced at $4.99 with ads, and $6.99 without commercials.

Separately, Zaslav said the company has already begun experimenting with bringing some Discovery+ content onto the Max platform, including select Magnolia Network shows such as “Fixer Upper: The Castle,” which he said was a top five show after only a few days on Max.

“These early [tests] bolster our strategic thesis that the two content offerings [Max and discovery+] work well together,” he said. “And when combined, should drive greater engagement, lower churn, and higher lifetime customer value.”

Warner Bros. Discovery is eyeing $1 billion in pre-tax earnings in streaming by 2023.

“I believe the grand experiment chasing subs at any cost is over,” Zaslav said. “Let’s face it, the strategy to collapse all windows, starve linear TV and theatrical, and spend money with abandon while making a fraction in return, all in the service of sub numbers, has ultimately proven, in our view, to be deeply flawed.”

Instead, the CEO believes that Warner Bros. Discovery, working internally as a single company, can do a better job determining what content people are watching, and what are they not watching.

His comments come as the company has irked some observers by removing select programs from distribution and production across Warner Bros., Turner and HBO. Indeed, Casey Bloys, newly appointed chairman/CEO of HBO and HBO Max, has been tasked with restructuring HBO, including analyzing all content on the platform. The analysis led to the departure of 37 programs from the platform and $825 million in fiscal write-downs.

“We didn’t take one show off a platform that was going to help us in any way,” Zaslav said. “It was going to help us to get [those programs] off the platform, so we could now invest in, with the knowledge of what is working, and replace those shows with content that has a chance to be more successful, have a larger audience.”

WBD: Discovery+, HBO, HBO Max Added 2.8M Combined Q3 Subs to Top 94.9 Million

Warner Bros. Discovery Nov. 3 disclosed it added 2.8 million subscribers across its branded Discovery+, HBO and HBO Max platforms in the third quarter, ended Sept. 30 — upping its total subscriber base to 94.5 million. The tally is up 15 million subs from the previous-year period.

The media giant ended the quarter with 53.5 million domestic subscribers, and 41.4 million international subs. That compared with 48.9 million domestic subs and 31.1 million international subs in the prior year period.

Total direct-to-consumer revenue dropped almost 8% to $2.3 billion from pro-forma revenue of $2.5 billion last year. In addition, the operating loss ballooned to $634 million compared to a pro-forma operating loss of $309 million a year earlier.

In a statement, CEO David Zaslav said WBD continues to re-imagine and transform the organization for the future, while driving synergy enterprise-wide, increasing targeted savings to at least $3.5 billion, and making additional progress on the combined DTC product, which includes combining the Discovery+ and HBO Max SVOD services by Spring 2023.

“While we have lots more work to do, and there are some difficult decisions still to be made, we have total conviction in the opportunity ahead,” Zaslav said.