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Combined HBO Max-Discovery+ Coming Summer 2023, Direct-to-Streaming Movies Ending, Prime Video Return Hinted

Ben Bowman

HBO Max and discovery+ are getting married, and they’ve chosen a date in summer of 2023. The long-expected merger was confirmed today in the Warner Bros. Media earnings call.

The service will first arrive in the U.S., with Latin America launching in the fall of 2023, followed by Europe, APAC, and “New Markets” throughout 2024.

Company leaders did not offer pricing details, but they said the new service will have some features from HBO Max added to the underlying structure of discovery+.

If you loved the HBO Max that featured theatrical films streaming on the same day they arrived in cinemas, you may not be happy with the future to come. Today, Warner Bros. Discovery announced a pivot on the strategy that drove so many subscriptions in 2021.

CEO David Zaslav said, “We will fully embrace theatrical,” adding that “as films move from one window to the next, their value is elevated, elevated, elevated.” Zaslav said the company is “course-correcting” on the old regime’s controversial “Project Popcorn.”

CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels explained that planned streaming films like “Batgirl” and “Wonder Twins” no longer fit the company’s strategy, signaling that every future Warner Bros. film will get a run in theaters. Somewhere, Christopher Nolan is smiling.

“Our conclusion is that expensive, direct-to-streaming movies — in terms of how people are consuming them on the platform, how often people go there or buy it, or buy a service for it, and how it gets nourished over time — (there) is no comparison to what happens when you launch a film in the motion picture in the theaters. And so this idea of expensive films going direct-to-streaming, we cannot find an economic case for it, we can’t find an economic value for it. And so we’re making a strategic shift,” Zaslav said.

Zaslav explained that there will be a team working on a 10-year plan specifically for DC superhero movies, following the model of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

One final surprise came in the form of a slide that announced that WBD would be “implementing an HBO Max distribution strategy aimed at wider availability vs. retail-only.” This seems to suggest that HBO Max will return to platforms like Prime Video. HBO Max lost 5 million subscribers when it departed the platform in August 2021.

HBO Max

HBO Max is a subscription video streaming service that gives access to the full HBO library, along with exclusive Max Originals, and access to every Warner Bros. film on HBO Max on the same day that it hits theaters.

HBO Max has two tiers, an ad-supported plan for TBD and ad-free plan for SEK 89. HBO Max without ads also includes features like the ability to download offline and 4K streaming.

Subscribers will have access to hit HBO series like Succession, Mare of Easttown, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and more.

All HBO 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.

They also will get Max Originals that aren’t available to HBO channel subscribers, like “The Flight Attendant” (Kaley Cuoco), “Love Life” (Anna Kendrick), as well as reboots to “Sex In The City” and “Gossip Girl.”

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