Over the last several months, Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) has been working to smush HBO Max and Discovery+ together into a single, giant streaming service, which is expected to debut this spring. However, it seems the company has rethought its strategy, as Discovery+ is sticking around as a standalone platform.
“Our plan for the enhanced platform that will bring together HBO Max and Discovery+ content remains unchanged,” WBD spokesperson Jeff Cusson told Engadget. “In addition, we have decided to keep the lower-priced offering of Discovery+ in the US marketplace.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news, executives were concerned that a sizable number of the current 20 million Discovery+ subscribers may not be willing to pay a higher price for a service that features HBO Max content. It doesn’t seem that there are plans to keep HBO Max as a standalone app as well. As such, folks who want to watch shows like The Last of Us and Succession without a cable subscription may need to pay more for a service that combines HBO Max content and most of the offerings from Discovery+.
Discovery+ costs $5 per month with ads or $7 to go ad-free, while the ad-supported version of HBO Max costs $10 per month (or $16 without ads). The upcoming service is expected to be pricier than HBO Max.
The report suggests the new service and Discovery+ will feature Shark Week content and lifestyle shows from the Magnolia Network. Other programming will be available on both platforms.
Discovery+ has low operating costs and is turning a profit, according to the Journal‘s sources. However, WBD is cutting billions in costs since it formed last year as a result of a merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery. The company has been yanking shows from HBO Max and canceling streaming-exclusive projects, reportedly in favor of using them as tax write-offs.
Meanwhile, the report suggests that WBD is gearing up to roll out its own free, ad-supported (FAST) service with streaming channels that feature content from across the portfolio. This move makes sense, as the company recently inked deals with Roku and Tubi to offer an array of FAST channels featuring shows like Westworld and The Nevers, which it pulled from HBO Max in December.
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