After confirming in March that Discovery+ and HBO Max would eventually be combined into a single service, Warner Bros. Discovery leadership finally provided an update on what its beefed-up streaming future will look like during its second-quarter earnings call on Thursday.
The combined streaming service will begin to roll out in the United States in summer 2023, with the Latin American market to follow in Fall 2023. In early 2024, WBD plans to roll out the new service in Europe, following by the Asia-Pacific model in mid-2024 and additional new markets in Fall 2024. The company is aiming to turn a streaming profit in the U.S. by 2024 and a global subscriber goal of 130 million paying customers.
“Warner Bros. Discovery’s unmatched depth and breadth of content provides us the opportunity to offer something for everyone,” JB Perrette, CEO and president of global streaming and interactive, said on WBD’s Q2 earnings call. “Providing consumers with a range of entertainment options will maximize our reach and financial returns.”
Executives teased they would have more to share on the upcoming merged service closer to its launch, but revealed that it will utilize Discovery+’s technology backbone while aiming to incorporate many of HBO Max’s well received user features. The hope is to cut down on each individual service’s shortcomings, such as Max’s performance and customer issues and Discovery+’s limited consumer features. Cherrypicking the attributes of both streamer’s and looking to improve on their weaknesses will ideally enable better content discovery and more personalized choices.
“All this coupled with the unparalleled breadth of quality content will help drive our leading objective which is growing engagement,” Perrette said. “This will, in turn, enable us to meaningfully reduce churn, support gross ads and increase monetization, particularly with our ad-light offering.”
Earlier this summer, select HBO Max subscribers began receiving offers to add Discovery+’s ad-lite tier for an extra $0.99 per month for four months or the ad-free tier for $3.99 monthly for the same period. The bundling — a popular tactic with Disney (Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+) and Paramount Global (Paramount+, Showtime Anytime, BET+) — was the first step into eventually merging both streaming services.
But it remains to be seen if the broad purviews of a combined Discovery+ and HBO Max will appeal to a large enough customer base that is interested in both content libraries. WBD CEO David Zaslav wants to simplify the company’s digital ecosystem with one global direct-to-consumer product offering. But how many viewers of Discovery’s “Naked and Afraid” are also interested in the deadly political machinations in HBO’s “Game of Thrones?” Is there an overlap between those who watch HGTV’s “Love It or List It” and HBO Max’s “Peacemaker?”
On Thursday morning, the company announced that select unscripted content from Magnolia Network will be available to stream on HBO Max beginning Sept. 30 while CNN shows and films are heading to Discovery+ beginning Aug. 19. Though the content from both may be complementary in genre, questions remain as to how Warner Bros. Discovery can massage both libraries into one distinct brand identity consumer can easily identify.