Warner Bros. Discovery will merge HBO Max and Discovery Plus services

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Warner Bros. Discovery will merge its HBO Max and Discovery Plus services into a single streaming platform as part of a plan to reach 130 million paying subscribers by 2025 in a highly competitive market.

The streaming merger, announced Thursday by the newly formed media conglomerate’s CEO David Zaslav during a quarterly earnings call, means Warner Bros. properties like the Harry Potter series and sitcom “Friends ” would be available alongside Discovery shows like “Deadliest Catch” and “America’s Worst Cooks.” Warner Bros. Discovery will also develop a 10-year plan for its DC Comics franchises that include Superman and Wonder Woman, similar to what Disney did with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Zaslav said.

The merger of HBO Max and Discovery Plus is aimed at reducing subscriber losses with a broad offering that has “something for everyone in the home,” said Jean-Briac Perrette, head of global streaming for Warner Bros. Discovery. The company also floated the idea of ​​a free streaming service that would be supported by ads.

The firm plans to launch the merged streaming service in the United States next summer and then in Latin America later that year. Europe and Asia Pacific will follow in 2024.

Warner Bros. Discovery’s 2025 goal of 130 million paying subscribers would be an increase of more than 40 percent from the 92 million combined subscribers it has on HBO Max and Discovery Plus. Netflix said last month that it has 220 million paying subscribers worldwide. Disney Plus said in May that it has about 138 million subscribers worldwide.

Warner Bros. Discovery will aim to make the new streaming service profitable in the United States by 2024 and have its global streaming segment generate $1 billion in revenue by 2025, Perrette said. No name or pricing system was announced for the new service.

For the entertainment industry, an HBO Max move is causing major upset

Warner Bros. Discovery was formed in April, when the WarnerMedia unit of AT&T and Discovery completed their merger, starting with about $55 billion in debt. As Zaslav’s team looks to compete with Netflix and Disney and move toward profitability, it has also scrapped some legacy projects, such as when it pulled the plug on CNN Plus in April, less than a month after the service launched.

During Thursday’s earnings call, Zaslav also reaffirmed that Warner Bros. Discovery would make “a strategic shift” away from releasing movies directly to broadcast, saying the approach made less long-term financial sense than releasing movies in theaters. “This idea of ​​expensive movies going straight to broadcast, we can’t find an economic case for it,” he said.

Those comments came after an investor asked why the company had canceled the release of “Batgirl.” The $90 million film, with Leslie Grace in the title role and Michael Keaton as Batman more than 30 years after he first donned the cowl, was canceled along with “Wonder Twins” and “Scoob!: Holiday Haunt.” ” due to Warner Bros. Discovery’s new strategy

The cancellations could also allow for a potential tax deduction, according to a report in Variety, and come amid complaints from HBO Max users that certain shows were abruptly removed from the service.

“Our focus will be on the theater,” Zaslav said. “And when we bring the theatrical movies to HBO Max, we find that they have a substantially higher value.”

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