Speculation Is on Fire Around HBO Max's Future, Planned Layoffs in Major Streaming Shake-Up

After confirming in March that Discovery+ and HBO Max would eventually be combined into a single service, Warner Bros. Discovery leadership finally provided an update on what its beefed up streaming future will look like Thursday during its second-quarter earnings call.

The combined streaming service will begin to roll out in the United States in summer 2023, with the Latin American market to follow in Fall 2023. In early 2024, WBD plans to roll out the new service in Europe, following by the Asia-Pacific model in mid-2024 and additional new markets in Fall 2024.

“Warner Bros. Discovery’s unmatched depth and breadth of content provides us the opportunity to offer something for everyone,” CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels said on WBD’s Q2 earnings call Thursday. “Providing consumers with a range of entertainment options will maximize our reach and financial returns.”

Earlier this summer, select HBO Max subscribers began receiving offers to add Discovery+’s ad-lite tier for an extra $0.99 per month for four months or the ad-free tier for $3.99 monthly for the same period. The bundling — a popular tactic with Disney (Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+) and Paramount Global (Paramount+, Showtime Anytime, BET+) — was the first step into eventually merging both streaming services.

But it remains to be seen if the broad purviews of a combined Discovery+ and HBO Max will appeal to a large enough customer base that is interested in both content libraries. WBD CEO David Zaslav wants to simplify the company’s digital ecosystem with one global direct-to-consumer product offering. But how many viewers of Discovery’s “Naked and Afraid” are also interested in the deadly political machinations in HBO’s “Game of Thrones?” Is there an overlap between those who watch HGTV’s “Love It or List It” and HBO Max’s “Peacemaker?”

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On Thursday morning, the company announced that select unscripted content from Magnolia Network will be available to stream on HBO Max beginning Sept. 30 while CNN shows and films are heading to Discovery+ beginning Aug. 19. Though the content from both may be complementary in genre, questions remain as to how Warner Bros. Discovery can massage both libraries into one distinct brand identity consumer can easily identify.

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