(Pocket-lint) - RIP HBO Max and Discovery+. We hardly knew ye.
Two years ago, at the start of the pandemic, HBO folded HBO Now and HBO Go and the standalone HBO app and created what we now know as HBO Max. It's a direct rival to Disney+ and Paramount+, offering HBO movies, original HBO Max programming, and content from various WarnerMedia film and TV brands. Now, in a surprise twist (although it was first rumoured about online weeks ago), Warner Bros Discovery has announced it will replace HBO Max with a new streaming service next year. But that's not all: Discovery+ will be folded into this new video streaming service, as well.
Here's what you need to know about this dramatic change in the streaming space.
Why is Warner shutting down HBO Max?
It's not exactly. The brand's days are numbered, and the service will be replaced by a new one. Reports first emerged in late summer 2022 about HBO Max being on the chopping block. Then, during an earnings call on 3 August 2022, Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav announced both HBO Max and Discovery+ will be replaced by a new service in the summer of 2023. "HBO Max has a competitive feature set, but it has had performance and customer issues", said Zaslav, basically admitting its flagship streaming service has failed during big premiere events such as Mayor of Easttown, Euphoria, and Succession.
Warner Bros Discovery then suggested Discovery+ is powered by better tech, and that will be key to its new service.
Wait. So, what's happening to Discovery+?
Discovery+ launched in early 2020, but as of March 2022, it only had 24 million subscribers. In comparison, HBO Max launched in May 2020, and one year later, it reportedly had 70 million paid subscribers. And the most recent reports suggest it has 77 million global subscribers. While HBO Max focuses on scripted HBO content and original Max programming, Discovery+ focuses on unscripted content such as reality TV shows from Discovery brands. Ever since the merger of WarnerMedia with Discovery last spring, there's been talk about HBO Max and Discovery+ combining. Now, the two services are expected to merge in 2023.
“We think that product is going to be superb", said Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav during an earnings call on 3 August 2022.
When will the HBO Max and Discovery+ combined service launch?
It's currently set to go live sometime in summer 2023.
What's the combined service called and how much will it cost?
Warner Bros Discovery has not announced a name for its new HBO Max and Discovery+ combined streaming service - let alone how much it will cost. However, in the US, HBO Max costs $15 a month for ad-free streaming or $10 a month for ad-supported streaming. Discovery+ starts at $4.99 a month with ads. It's safe to assume the new service may cost as much as $20 a month, but that would be one of the more expensive streaming services to date.
What else do you need to know?
Amid all the changes to its streaming services, Warner Bros Discovery also announced it canceled a live-action DCEU TV series called Batgirl. The show had been filmed and went through post-production - but now it will never release on DVD or even on streaming services. Additional movies exclusive to HBO Max were simultaneously removed from the streaming service, though they're still available to buy or rent.