An official merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery has been in the work for quite some time, and with both companies owning streaming services -- WarnerMedia's HBO Max and Discovery's discovery+ -- Variety has detailed that the two platforms are set to be combined into one service. While The Walt Disney Company owns both Disney+ and Hulu, the two services have their own distinct offerings, yet can be bundled into one subscription fee, though this update confirms that the two platforms and their respective content will be integrated into one, all-encompassing service. There is no timeline for when the two services will be combined, though execs note that a bundling option will be available in the interim.
"One of the most important items here is that we believe in a combined product as opposed to a bundle... We believe that the breadth and depth of this content offering is going to be a phenomenal consumer value proposition," Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels shared on Monday. "The question is, in order to get to that point and do it in a way that's actually a great user experience for our subscribers, that's going to take some time. Again, that's nothing that's going to happen in weeks -- hopefully not in years, but in several months -- and we will start working on an interim solution in the meantime. So right out of the gate, we're working on getting the bundling approach ready, maybe a single sign-on, maybe ingesting content into the other product, etc., so that we can start to get some benefits early on. But the main thrust is going to be harmonizing the technology platform. Building one very, very strong combined direct-to-consumer product and platform, that's going to take a while."
HBO Max has proven to be a strong success since it launched in 2020, delivering audiences not only an impressive library of Warner Bros. titles and franchises, but also a number of compelling originals. Discovery's streamer has quite a different selection of offerings available, given the reality-focused programs it highlights from the Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, and Animal Planet. In this regard, there's very little overlap in what is offered on HBO Max vs. discovery+, making them perfect complements to one another.
"The direct-to-consumer business is obviously further along now than what we had four years ago," Wiedenfels added. "There's a greater risk, you want to get that right. Between the two direct-to-consumer products, by the time we close, close to 100 million people are going to be affected as we make those changes. So that will need some very, very detailed and disciplined planning."
They continued, "We have HBO Max, with a more premium, male-skewing positioning, and then you've got the female-positioning on the Discovery side. You've got the daily engagement that people enjoy with Discovery content versus sort of the event-driven nature of the HBO Max content. Take that together, I have no doubt that we will be creating one of the most complete, sort of four-quadrant, old-young-male-female products out there. And I'm really excited about it. I can't wait to see the first combined direct-to-consumer metrics because, in theory, the acquisition power of HBO Max, combined with the retention power of the Discovery content I think is going to make for a blowout DTC product, and that should certainly drive very healthy revenue growth for years to come."
Stay tuned for details on the merger between HBO Max and discovery+.
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