“For instance, we were going to spend $800 million promoting Discovery+, Warner was going to spend $800 million to a billion dollars promoting HBO Max. If we have one platform, we just don’t promote twice,” Zaslav said then, per The Wrap. “We had in our plan to hire a lot more engineers. Now when we come together, we have thousands of engineers, another platform who has thousands of engineers, so we don’t have to hire many more thousands of engineers.”
Now, four months later, Zaslav’s restructuring plan has set in motion.
What does this mean for HBO Max?
On August 4, Warner Bros. Discovery announced on a Q2 company earnings call that HBO Max and Discovery+ would be merged into one combined, singular streaming service that will launch in the United States in summer of 2023.
Jean-Briac Perrette, the CEO and president of global streaming and games at WBD, stated on the call that the new streamer will capitalize on and combine the strengths of HBO Max and Disovery+: “We recognize that both of our existing products have shortcomings. HBO Max has a competitive feature set but has had performance and customer issues. Discovery+ has best in class performance, and consumer ratings, but more limited features.”
Discovery+ is currently the home streaming service for unscripted content like 90 Day Fiancé and Flip or Flop from HGTV, TLC, Food Network, Travel Channel, Magnolia Network, and Discovery Channel. With this merger, shows from HBO Max will live alongside shows from Discovery+. The new, integrated streaming service does not yet have a brand name or specific pricing details. However, Zaslav said on the call that the company is exploring the idea of a free, ad-supported tier and an ad-free paid tier for the platform.
According to Variety, Warner Bros. Discovery shared that the new streaming service would first be introduced in the U.S. during summer 2023, then rollout in Latin America in fall 2023, Europe in early 2024, Asia Pacific in mid-2024, and additional global markets in fall 2024.
What’s the fate of my favorite HBO Max original shows and movies?
During the Q&A portion of the earnings call, Zaslav addressed the rumors that more scripted HBO shows like Gossip Girl (2022), Rap Sh!t, Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, and The Sex Lives of College Girls would be cancelled and less HBO series would be produced.
“There was some buzz today about HBO Max [that] we’re going to start doing less series and our strategy is to embrace and support and then drive the incredible success that HBO Max is having… We’re going to spend significantly more on the HBO Max product,” said Zaslav. “We’re going to spend more money on content. We’re a content company.”
Yet, as reported by Forbes, WBD is poised to slash 70% of the HBO Max production staff, with a new content strategy that does not prioritize scripted HBO Max original content, both series and films. As pointed out by writer Eliza Skinner on Twitter, unscripted content is cheaper to produce than scripted content. So while more money might be spent on HBO Max, it’s unclear how many and what kinds of shows will be funded.