Warner Bros. Discovery abandons plans to merge HBO Max with Discovery+ – report

In a change of strategy, Warner Bros. has scrapped plans to combine Discovery streaming services HBO Max and Discovery+, The Wall Street Journal.

In a report this morning citing unnamed insiders, the news outlet said the decision was made after research suggested Discovery+ customers may be balking at paying higher prices. A WBD representative did not immediately respond to Deadline’s request for comment.

HBO Max costs $16 a month or $10 for ads, compared to $7 and $5 for Discovery+’s corresponding equivalent. For the past several months, WBD execs have talked about combining the two into a single offering. HBO Max features Discovery titles more prominently on its home page, though Prestige is the ultimate fit between HBO fare and Discovery’s mainstays. 90-Day Fiancé Questions have been asked both inside and outside the company.

Plan now, per WSJ Reportedly, the market should continue to have Discovery+ even when a new rebranded service hits the market in the spring. The heavy bet is that HBO Max will be renamed Max, reflecting its broader consumer orientation and ambitions to move beyond its premium-cable roots. At the same time, WBD continues its subscription streaming business, it is also expanding its efforts into free, ad-supported streaming. The company recently reached a deal with Roku and Tubi to license several shows from Warner Bros. Television and HBO, and it plans to launch Fast Channel later this year.

WarnerMedia, which launched HBO Max in 2020, closed its $43 billion merger with Discovery last April. Like many media peers, it is managing through a continued decline in the linear TV business and uncertainty over profit models in streaming. The combined company hasn’t broken subscriber numbers for Discovery+, which launched in early 2021, for several quarters. Instead, it made them an overall subscriber base with linear HBO.

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