HBO Max will end in its current form within two years. A big reboot and a free plan are waiting for it

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Warner Bros. Discovery announced several strategic changes in the field of streaming on the occasion of the publication of financial results for the second quarter. We already knew that after the merger of the two media companies there will also be a merger of services, now we have the first detailed information about it.

Next year, the gradual merging of “film” HBO Max and “documentary” Discovery+ will begin. First in the USA, where uniform applications will wait in the summer of 2023. In the fall, the offer will head to Latin America and then to Europe in early 2024. The final merger will take place in autumn 2024.

Warner Bros. Discovery wants to enter the field of streaming with one brand, but at the moment we still don’t know which one it will be, or if HBO Max is stronger for her. Technologically, however, it will be based more on Discovery+, which is more robust and generally better received.

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The new platform is intended to be universal and scalable to serve video-on-demand and live streaming, subscription streaming and one-time fees per view or purchase. Warner Bros. Discovery is also counting on sports, so in the future this service could cover its own Eurosport, which today has its own application and Player subscription.

By default, the service will offer three tariffs: full premium without ads, cheaper with some ads and then i free with advertising. This is a change from the present, when almost no one in the industry offers a completely free plan.

The head of the company, David Zaslav, promises that the company will focus on quality, not quantity. It also wants to rely on strong brands such as DC Comics, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones. And he will no longer drive everything straight to the stream, but expects the important role of cinema and linear television.

HBO Max and Discovery+ today

HBO Max also started in the Czech Republic in the spring, where it replaced HBO Go. We are still waiting for Discovery+, although the expansion to Europe was also supposed to accelerate this year. During the first quarter, HBO Max had 76.8 million subscribers globally and “plus” 24 million.

In total, it should be a little over 100 million subscribers, but there is some overlap between users of both services, and the company has also modified the calculation methodology. In retrospect, it states that it had 90.4 million subscribers in the first quarter. And from April to the end of June, it added 1.7 million new ones, so it has a total of 92.1 million subscribers.

It’s growing more slowly than competitor Disney+, and its ambitions aren’t as big either. Zaslav expects to have 130 million subscribers by 2025. Its biggest Hollywood competitor, but even Netflix, will be at double that time.

The current financial results also show how streaming is a significantly profitable business (Netflix was only profitable after 10 years). The division made $2.4 billion in revenue during the quarter, but had an operating loss of $560 million.

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