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The streaming wars just got a new heavyweight contender.
HBO Max and Discovery Plus will merge in one subscription service after Discovery completed its merger with WarnerMedia this year, Discovery chief financial officer Gunnar Wiedenfels said Monday.
The decision creates a streaming platform with the content arsenal and customer base to rival the upper echelon of streaming giants, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus. The combined app will include premium HBO shows from WarnerMedia and Warner Bros. movies, as well as Discovery’s list of unscripted programs.
Some initially speculated that the soon-to-be-merged media giant, which will be called Warner Bros. Discovery, could keep its HBO Max and Discovery Plus apps as standalone products. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has long been a wire harness promoterwhich has been similarly applied to the streaming service model by people like disney.
“I think combining all the content into one app will ultimately make it much more appealing to the consumer and a real competitor to Netflix’s breadth and depth of content,” said Geetha Ranganathan, analyst at industry at Bloomberg, at dot.LA.
The move isn’t just about content. Warner Bros. Discovery can reduce costs by streamlining multiple apps, bringing together marketing and technology efforts under one roof, she added. Additionally, Discovery’s cable channel content – already edited with natural ads in mind – is optimized for the ad-supported model that consumers are attracted to.
“HBO Max wants to ramp up an advertising level and Discovery’s content will help them do that,” said Michael Nathanson of technology and media research firm MoffettNathanson.
Many details remain, from when the combined service will launch to how much it will cost. HBO Max is already more expensive at $14.99 per month (or $9.99 with ads), while Discovery Plus currently costs $4.99 per month with ads or $6.99 without. A combo app that costs more than $14.99 seems like a no-start for many consumers, some of whom are already planning to drop a subscription this year because it’s too expensive.— Christian Hetric
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