Warner Bros. Discovery is officially merging its HBO Max and Discovery+ streaming services into a single offering. The news was broken during the company's quarterly earnings call on Thursday, with the reveal that their top priority is to launch "an integrated SVOD service", allowing subscribers to access both catalogues of content. The company confirmed that the plan is to release the combined service in the summer of 2023, followed by releases in Latin America, Europe, and other markets in late 2023 through 2024.
"With respect to streaming, our main priority right now is launching an integrated SVOD service," Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said during the call. "And in a few moments, JB will talk more about the strategy and some of the key building blocks and milestones as we bring HBO Max and Discovery+ together under one offering. Our streaming strategy has evolved over the past year and really reflects the importance of rather than the dependence on this segment of our global content monetization plan."
"Once our SVOD service is firmly established in the market, we see real potential and are exploring the opportunity for a fast or free ad-supported streaming offering that would give consumers who do not want to pay a subscription fee access to great library content, while at the same time serving as an entry point to our premium service," Zaslav added.
This comes after days of rumors that have surrounded the future of HBO Max, kickstarted by the company's recent cancellations of both Batgirl and Scoob!: Holiday Haunt, two already-completed movies that were planned to be exclusives on the service. The intent behind those cancellations has been debated about ever since, with some reports indicating that it is due to an increased focus on theatrical-first movie releases, and others indicating that it was in order to get potential tax write-downs for both films. Subsequent decisions made by the company, including cancelling the already-completed third season of Little Ellen, and removing six already-released exclusive movies from HBO Max, have also been reportedly due to tax reasons.
The company has been looking to trim $3 billion from the company's budget, this would not necessarily be unprecedented. The studio has already cut scripted programming at the cable networks TNT and TBS, even going so far as cancelling shows hours before their season premieres. It was also announced earlier this week that the studio plans to no longer have HBO Max focus on "live-action kids and family programming."
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