Mar 14, 2022 - Economy

HBO Max and Discovery+ to combine after merger

Total subscribers by streaming service, Q1 2020 to Q4 2021
Data: Company filings; Note: Paramount+ & Showtime was formerly CBS All Access + Showtime, Discovery includes discovery+ as well as other Discovery streaming services. Hulu only includes on-demand subscribers.; Chart: Axios Visuals

HBO Max, the general entertainment streaming service from WarnerMedia, and Discovery+, the streaming service from Discovery that includes mostly non-scripted shows, will combine after WarnerMedia and Discovery merge next month.

Why it matters: The merger is meant to give both companies the scale necessary to compete with entertainment giants like Disney, Netflix and Amazon Prime — so it makes sense they would combine their streaming platforms to get bigger.

Details: The two streaming services will be combined, not packaged together as a part of a bundle, Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels said at a conference Monday, according to Variety.

  • “One of the most important items here is that we believe in a combined product as opposed to a bundle… We believe that the breadth and depth of this content offering is going to be a phenomenal consumer value proposition,” Wiedenfels said, per Variety.
  • Wiedenfels will be the CFO of the combined Warner Bros. Discovery company.

The big picture: Discovery shareholders voted to approve the WarnerMedia merger last week, after they were granted regulatory approval to merge in the U.S. and Europe. The merger is expected to close in mid-April.

What to watch: The deal has been clouded by drama at CNN, which is owned by WarnerMedia, and just announced last week plans to launch its own paid streaming service, CNN+, by the end of March.

  • It's unclear whether CNN will be combined with the general entertainment streaming service from Warner Bros. Discovery, or will be offered as a part of a bundle.
  • Discovery named late-night producer and news vet Chris Licht as head of CNN Worldwide, following the abrupt and dramatic resignation of CNN chief Jeff Zucker.
  • Sources have told Axios that incoming Discovery team has expressed skepticism about the roster size for CNN+.
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