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Discovery CFO Doesn’t See AVOD-Only as Priority For New Warner Bros. Discovery

Michael King

ViacomCBS and Fox have gone all-in with ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) services, in the guise of Pluto TV and Tubi, respectively, but the soon-to-be combined Warner Bros. Discovery isn’t in a hurry to join them.

During a seminar on Monday, Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels said the new media giant was focusing on “ad lite” versions of their subscription products, as opposed to exclusively free services like Pluto TV or Tubi.

“We believe that the content and combined content of our company, for sure, will be valuable enough to merit a subscription payment on an ongoing basis,” he said. “The ability to reassess the positioning in every network, in every territory and reprogram and rebundle this wonderful IP in our portfolio has created a better product, and that’s great for the consumer.”

Wiedenfels pointed out that re-platforming of their material will include offering the same product features around the world, which he said is an advantage for them going forward.

“A function of re-platforming (is going) to be able to offer all the same product features around the globe, but it continues to be a focus area for us,” he said. “And so I think that’s certainly something that’s going to be in the mix going forward as well.”

Pluto TV

Pluto TV is a free live TV streaming service that provides more than 250 channels of live TV and thousands of on demand movies and TV shows.

Most of what you’ll find on Pluto TV qualifies as “background television.” It’s fine to keep on while you’re scrolling on your phone or cooking something in the kitchen.

Because these aren’t traditional live TV channels, it’s not a great option for live events, news, or sports, but it’s a solid choice for cord cutters who want to supplement their other services with some “comfort food” TV.

Wiedenfels said “never say never” when it comes to an AVOD-only product, but for now, it is not a high-priority item for Warner Bros. Discovery officials. Both HBO Max and discovery+ offer subscriptions with minimal ads, but these are very different from exclusively free, ad-heavy streaming services.

“Whether at some point — or maybe a complete sort of AVOD-only, subscription-free product — that remains to be seen,” he said. “Again, I can really only imagine that for sort of long-term, long-tail library kind of content. It’s not a huge strategic priority.”

According to AT&T company officials during their Q2 2021 earnings call in late July, the talks and paperwork associated with the agreement are continuing on pace for an expected closure of the merger deal in 2022.

Tubi

Tubi is a free video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 35,000 movies and television shows. Fox executives have called their service “TV on steroids.”

Tubi’s programming includes films and television series from Fox Entertainment, MGM, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., NBCUniversal, Disney, and more.

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