HBO Max Exec: Goal for Combined Streamer Is ‘Replicating the Cable Bundle’
As the end of March races by we creep ever closer to April 12, the date set by Warner Bros. Discovery for a major press event at which the company will share details about its new and presumably improved streaming platform. That forthcoming streamer will integrate most of the content from discovery+ and everything from HBO Max into a single service finally bringing nearly all of the titles from both sides of the company following last year’s merger.
The press conference may still be a couple of weeks out, but WBD executives are already dropping hints about the thinking behind the new service. Speaking at the 2023 Series Mania Forum on Thursday, HBO and HBO Max Chief Content Officer Casey Bloys said that the goal would be to offer as many different kinds of content as possible, much like a traditional cable TV provider.
“The combined product gives us a good way to do that, we want a product that appeals to as many people as we can – it can’t just be HBO shows, or reality shows, or whatever,” Bloys said. “It needs to be a combination for whatever mood the viewer is in. It is replicating that cable bundle, where you can get a wide array of programming – and frankly, that is what we are seeing all the streamers doing.”
That diversified content strategy is indeed what many in the streaming industry are pursuing, though not quite all. Netflix is branching further into unscripted and live events after the success of the livestreamed comedy special “Chris Rock: Selective Outrage.” Apple is more actively pursuing live sports, as it considers whether to bid on streaming rights for the NBA, the NCAA's Pac-12 conference, and English Premier League soccer rights in the United Kingdom.
But not all companies with streaming platforms are attempting to widen their focus. Disney, for instance, seems to want just the opposite. Disney CEO Bob Iger said in the company’s most recent quarterly earnings call that the company intended to cut back on general entertainment to focus more heavily on the company’s popular brands and franchises. Disney is even open to selling its majority holdings in Hulu to dedicate more of its attention to Disney+.
WBD has clearly put quite a bit of thought into its next streaming moves. Originally, the company was set to fully combine its two disparate streaming services into one platform titled “Max.” The Max name may still end up being used, but the company pivoted away from shuttering discovery+ completely in February. Most discovery+ content will still end up on the new platform, but discovery+ itself will remain separate, in order to allow more price-sensitive customers to enjoy its content without having to sign up for the far more expensive, combined service.
Indeed, some content has already begun to move to HBO Max from discovery+. This includes unscripted and lifestyle titles like shows from the “Property Brothers” franchise, “Chopped,” and “Fixer Upper,” featuring Chip and Joanna Gaines. The Gaines’ Magnolia Network has been on HBO Max since last summer.
But will that new streaming service include more live sports in an effort to replicate the offerings of traditional cable? Apparently not initially, however, company executives have indicated that there will be more details available on its plans to integrate live sports and news onto the platform during the upcoming press event.
“We’ve got sports and news that today are really untapped in the streaming world, and those are optionality for what we might be willing to do in the future, and we’ll share more of that on [April 12] with you with more detail,” said WBD streaming chief J.B. Perrette in February. “All of our sports in the U.S. and news content eventually could help us drive further scale and pricing in the years ahead.”
discovery+ is a video streaming service that offers more than 70,000 episodes of 2,500+ current and classic shows from several popular TV brands including Discovery, Investigation Discovery, HGTV, TLC, Food Network, A&E, Lifetime, and History.
The service primarily focuses on non-fiction programming or “reality” TV shows.
discovery+ is available with limited ads for $4.99 / month or ad-free for $6.99 / month.
Max is a subscription video streaming service that gives access to the full HBO library, along with exclusive Max Originals. There are hubs for content from TLC, HGTV, Food Network, Discovery, TCM, Cartoon Network, Travel Channel, ID, and more. Watch hit series like “The Last of Us,” “House of the Dragon,” “Succession,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and more. The service changed its name from “HBO Max” on May 23, 2023.
Max has three tiers, an ad-supported plan for $9.99 an ad-free plan for $15.99, and the ultimate tier that includes 4K for $19.99.
All Max subscribers will get the full libraries of shows like “Friends”, “The Big Bang Theory”, “South Park”, “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”, “The West Wing”, and more.
You can choose to add Max as a subscription through Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, or other Live TV providers.7-Day Trial