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WBD Exec: Unified HBO Max, discovery+ Service Coming in ‘Not-Too-Distant Future’

Matt Tamanini

Not only is it still coming, but it’s coming soon. At Wednesday’s Upfront presentation at New York’s Madison Square Garden, Warner Bros. Discovery executives confirmed that they were in fact working towards unifying their two signature streaming services into a single entertainment platform, despite little public discussion since Discovery officially acquired WarnerMedia.

However, the company’s brass has been touting this eventuality since before the two media giants merged; in March, CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels said that the plan was to first bundle HBO Max and discovery+ before ultimately combining them into a single service. This week, while promoting WBD’s assets to a room full of advertisers at MSG, WBD’s head of global streaming JB Perrette reiterated that the unified service was on its way.

“In the not-too-distant future, we see a unique possibility to bring all these incredible stories and brands that shape culture, that delight, amaze and inform global consumers, and bring home these remarkable moments across all these genres, in one, awesome global streaming product,” Perrette said.

Neither Perrette or anyone else from WBD elaborated on any further details about the plan, but the goal has never been in question for the team leading the newly formed conglomerate. CEO David Zaslav was overseeing Discovery when the cabler attempted to launch individual streaming hubs for every one of the lifestyle channels in the company’s portfolio. None of them took off until they were combined into discovery+, solidifying the executives view on streaming.

Zaslav and company believe deeply in providing a one-stop streaming shop, but this singular focus on singularity does raise questions. It was reported on Wednesday that Zaslav was reexamining HBO Max's investment in childrens' programming because the company wasn’t seeing the return on investment in the space and the kids’ fare didn’t seem to fit on the prestige platform.

What that will mean when the service eventually becomes a catchall for all of WBD’s content is yet to be seen, but it does seem to highlight Zaslav’s reputation for being an extremely budget-conscious, no-frills executive. However, by uniting HBO Max and discovery+, WBD will be providing one of the most unique and eclectic streaming experiences in the industry with everything from some of the most buzzed-about dramas to the most viral reality and lifestyle shows.

“The winners in the streaming business are those companies that can provide the biggest global consumer base with the greatest stories,” Perrette said on Wednesday, “from brands that act as curators for clear and compelling propositions across a diverse set of genres that provide the broadest choice, and yet all delivered in a simple and personalized consumer experience that makes it easy to discover and enjoy.

“We believe that with the potential of HBO Max and Discovery Plus, we are uniquely positioned to do just that.”

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