It’s been a roller coaster time for HBO Max and Warner Bros. Discovery. In August 2022, the merged company announced more merges were on the horizon. Plans to combine HBO Max and Discovery+ into one single streaming platform were revealed. In fact, Warner Bros. Discovery planned for the combined HBO Max and Discovery+ product first to roll out in the summer 2023 but then moved up that date to spring 2023. But now, according to reports from Wall Street Journal, which we saw on Deadline, more options are at play. Although it seems that HBO Max and Discovery+ will still merge, Discovery+ may also remain its own streaming platform. But that doesn’t mean HBO Max isn’t about to experience the announced changes; it seems like there is much evolving and rebranding still to come for the streamer.
Blending HBO Max and Discovery+ never seemed to make good content sense. The two streaming platforms seem at total odds with one another in terms of the movies and shows they prioritize. Additionally, since the proposed merger, we saw more and more content cut from HBO Max. And these content cuts did not feel favorably received. But blending HBO Max’s content with that of Discovery+ appears to be still on the table. Instead, to retain Discovery+ customers, it seems that the streamer will remain standing on its own.
Reports indicate the chief culprit for the possible Warner Bros. Discovery change of plans comes down to the usual suspect, price. Deadline shares that potentially, research indicated Discovery+ subscribers balked at a potential price increase. HBO Max is one of the pricier streamers, after all, costing users $16 per month or $10 with ads. Discovery+, meanwhile, costs approximately half that, $7 or $5 with ads.
Even when discussing combining HBO Max and Discovery+, Warner Bros. Discovery noted its greater ability to support an audience at scale. Clearly, the company wishes to keep that audience. The Wall Street Journal indicates that the potential new plan includes keeping Discovery+ as a separate, cheaper service but evolving HBO Max into a new, rebranded product. This plan could still see Discovery+ content such as “Shark Week” arriving on HBO Max, but Discovery+ would also remain its own option. In addition, there is some discussion of a brand new, free ad-supported streaming service that “will include a variety of streaming channels of programming including library content from the Warner Bros. studio, as well as shows that originally ran on HBO and Discovery outlets.”
What exactly the merged HBO Max and Discovery+ platform will be like isn’t yet clear. However, rumors of the name “Max” have been circulating. And recently, HBO Chairman and CEO Casey Bloys seemed to feed into this idea. He noted that keeping the HBO brand feels limiting to a product. Bloys indicates that parents with kids may not feel like the service is for them while the HBO moniker is there. And it’s important that a streaming service be able to reach every member of a family. We’ll have to wait and see what that means for HBO Max’s current prestige offerings and for HBO Max as a whole. For now, nothing is fully set when it comes to the platform’s future.