Warner Bros. Discovery plans to keep Discovery+ as a stand-alone streaming service in the U.S • TechCrunch
Discovery+ subscribers will be able to keep their subscription plan instead of paying more for the forthcoming HBO Max/Discovery+ combined streaming service. Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) has confirmed to TechCrunch that it plans to keep the lower-priced Discovery+ plan in the U.S. alongside the new platform, set to launch in spring 2023.
The Wall Street Journal first broke the news of the decision.
The decision means that Discovery+ subscribers won’t be forced to switch to a higher-priced subscription. Discovery+ currently costs $4.99/month for ads and $6.99/month for no ads. HBO Max’s ad-supported plan is $9.99/month whereas the ad-free tier is $15.99/month. The company hinted during its earnings call in November that HBO Max’s ad-free plan might get a price hike sometime this year.
It makes sense for the company to keep Discovery+ since there was a risk that subscribers would be unwilling to pay the higher cost for HBO Max content that they may not have wanted in the first place. WBD can’t afford to lose any subscribers as the company has a gross debt load of $50.4 billion.
While WBD doesn’t disclose individual subscriber numbers for Discovery+ and HBO Max, there’s an estimated overlap of about 4 million subscribers between the two streaming services. HBO, HBO Max and Discovery+ ended the third quarter with a combined total of 94.9 million global subscribers. Discovery+ had 24 million subs in Q1 2022.
The new move from WBD comes as it is months away from launching the new streaming service, which will reportedly be called “Max.” The streamer will get an ad-free and ad-lite plan, and feature all HBO Max content and the majority of Discovery+ content. It will launch in spring 2023 in the U.S. and then later on in Latin America. The supersized streaming service will then launch in Europe in 2024.
The overall streaming strategy across media companies has officially shifted towards bundling and consolidation. Paramount is the latest company to combine its streaming services, announcing “Paramount+ with Showtime” last month. Disney may also be planning on merging Hulu with Disney+ and ESPN+, which would make it the largest streaming service on the market with a combined total of 235.7 million subscribers.