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Warner Bros Discovery unveils revamped ‘Max’ in push for streaming growth

Warner Bros Discovery unveils revamped 'Max' in push for streaming growth © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Warner Bros logo is seen during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in Cannes, France, June 22, 2022. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

By Dawn Chmielewski

-Warner Bros Discovery (NASDAQ:) Inc said on Wednesday it will launch on May 23 its long-awaited new streaming service, christened “Max”, which combines HBO Max’s scripted entertainment with Discovery’s reality shows.

Prices for Max would range from $9.99 a month for the ad-supported version to $19.99 a month for “Max Ultimate” – the ad-free tier that allows 4 concurrent streams. 

The new service will serve as a test of Chief Executive David Zaslav’s ambition to create one of the world’s leading streaming services by assembling a collection of disparate assets.

Speaking at the launch of the service, Zaslav said HBO’s “one-of-a-kind storytelling” would bring subscribers to the service while Discovery’s unscripted programming will retain them.

The absence of HBO in the name of the new service was explained by streaming chief J.B. Perrette, who said, “HBO is HBO” and it “should not be pushed to the breaking point” by taking on a wide variety of content offered by HBO and Discovery.

    The service will feature HBO content including multiple Emmy award-winning drama series “Succession” and hit video-game adaptation “The Last of Us”.


It will also have several new titles based on well-known franchises, including an adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter stories and a prequel to popular show “Game of Thrones” called “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight”.

The opportunity to better capitalize on the streaming video revolution was one of the justifications for the merger of Discovery and WarnerMedia in 2022.  

    But by the time the deal closed in April last year, Wall Street’s enthusiasm for streaming had begun to wane, as Netflix (NASDAQ:) reported its first loss of subscribers in more than a decade. Investors began prioritizing profits over subscriber gains, ushering in a new frugality across Hollywood.

“We are not trying to win the direct-to-consumer spending war,” CEO Zaslav had assured investors shortly after the merger was finalized.

    He repudiated his predecessor’s COVID-19 era strategy of releasing new movies simultaneously in theaters and in the home, via HBO Max.

Instead, Warner Bros films would enjoy a traditional theatrical release and reap box office proceeds before becoming available on the streaming service.

It licensed some of these shows to other streaming services, as Warner Bros Discovery looked for new ways to monetize its film and television libraries.

    Like other media companies, Warner Bros Discovery has yet to turn a profit on its HBO Max and Discovery+ streaming services, though the company has reduced losses from them. 

    Streaming remains a priority for the company, which has set a subscriber goal of 130 million by 2025, which is a fraction of Netflix’s 231 million subscribers.

Shares of the company’s extended losses and were down nearly 3%.

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