The recent merger of Warner Bros (formerly owned by AT&T) and Discovery, Inc is a big deal, and now the new company has revealed its plans for streaming and content in the future. That includes merging HBO Max and Discovery+ into one streaming service.
Warner Bros. has gone through many different mergers and sales since it was founded in 1923, and AT&T purchased the company in 2018 (which was challenged by the U.S. Justice Department at the time). Under AT&T’s umbrella, the company became WarnerMedia and launched the HBO Max streaming service. Warner also owns HBO, CNN, DC Films, New Line Cinema, and other studios and channels.
However, just three years later, AT&T started plans to sell WarnerMedia to Discovery — owner of the Discovery+ streaming service, HGTV, the Food Network, and Animal Planet, to name a few properties. The new combined company, called Warner Bros. Discovery, officially came into existence in April 2022 and started making changes almost immediately.
Warner launched the CNN+ streaming service on March 29, 2022, and less than one month later, the company decided to shut it down. More recently, Warner cancelled the Batgirl movie that was planned for HBO Max, and some older series have been removed from the service.
What’s Happening With HBO Max?
Warner Discovery confirmed again this week that HBO Max and Discovery+ will eventually merge into one service, possibly with a different name. The single service will have a tier with no ads, a cheaper version with some ads, and a free version fully supported by ads. The future service will also have both on-demand and live content, and the latter could include sports — something Apple and Amazon are expanding.
The transition to a single service is expected to start in the United States in 2023, with a fall rollout in Latin America in fall 2023, Europe in early 2024, the Asia-Pacific region in mid-2024, and “new markets” later that year.
HBO Max and Discovery+ will co-exist in the meantime, and Warner is starting to share some content across them. The company announced on Thursday that some shows from Magnolia Network, including Fixer Upper: Welcome Home and Homegrown, are coming to HBO Max from Discovery+. CNN originals, most of which were intended for the now-dead CNN+ streaming service, are coming to Discovery+.
There were rumors that Warner was cutting back on HBO Max’s scripted content, but that doesn’t appear to be true, at least for now. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said during the recent earnings call, “our strategy is to embrace and support and drive the incredible success that HBO Max is having.” However, the new ownership is putting an end to simultaneous theatrical movie releases on HBO Max.
What About HBO Max Included With My AT&T Plan?
AT&T bundled HBO Max with many of its home internet and mobile plans when it owned the old WarnerMedia, and back in June, the bundle went away for new subscribers. However, AT&T confirmed this week that customers who already have HBO Max are keeping it — at least for a while longer.
AT&T said in a press release, “AT&T and Warner Bros. Discovery today announced an agreement that will allow AT&T to continue to offer internet and mobility customers access to HBO Max’s portfolio of original programming and series.”
Note: The author of this article owns stock in Warner Bros. Discovery.