The upcoming merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery is sending shockwaves through the streaming world. Two major services—HBO Max and Discovery+—will combine into one mega platform rivaling Netflix and Disney+.
This consolidation reflects sweeping changes in how viewers access entertainment. As media giants adapt, let‘s break down what this massive deal means for you.
A Blockbuster Streaming Merger
WarnerMedia and Discovery shocked the industry when they announced their $43 billion merger in May 2021. The deal will fuse WarnerMedia divisions like HBO and Warner Bros. with Discovery‘s networks including Discovery, HGTV, and Food Network.
The goal is to better compete against the industry juggernauts. Netflix leads the field with 220+ million subscribers worldwide. Disney makes a formidable second with around 130 million combined between Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+.
Meanwhile, HBO and HBO Max boast 73.8 million subscribers. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said Discovery+ passed 15 million paying customers in its first year. Together, they‘ll have almost 90 million subscribers globally—still far less than the Big Two.
Scale matters in the streaming arms race for content and viewers. By joining forces, Warner-Discovery aims to pump out more big-budget originals to draw and retain subscribers. The merger awaits final regulatory approval but is expected to close in spring 2022.
What Will Happen to HBO Max and Discovery+?
Once the merger closes, the real work begins integrating these two streaming heavyweights into one unified service. Warner-Discovery aims to launch their combined platform in the U.S. in 2023, followed by international rollout.
HBO Max launched in May 2020 as the streaming home for prestige HBO originals plus blockbuster Warner Bros. movies and popular shows from TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network, and more.
Discovery+ followed in January 2021, focused on reality TV, home and food programming, nature and science documentaries, and other non-fiction content.
Bringing these together will create a streaming buffet with something for everyone. But it also presents technical challenges to combine tech stacks and navigate legacy company cultures. WarnerMedia and Discovery aim to make the transition as seamless as possible for subscribers.
Until then, both platforms will operate independently. You can keep watching House of the Dragon and 90 Day Fiancé through their existing apps for now.
How Will Pricing Shake Out?
One huge outstanding question is how much this future app will cost. HBO Max currently offers an ad-supported plan for $9.99 per month and an ad-free option for $14.99 monthly. Discovery+ comes in at $4.99 with ads or $6.99 for no ads.
Industry insiders expect the merged service will have competitive pricing tiers for both ad-lite and commercial-free plans. Some analysts predict bundled pricing around $9.99 with ads or $14.99 without monthly ads.
The companies could also offer a premium ad-free tier with all the bells and whistles for around $17.99-19.99 per month. Bundling with a live TV component is another possibility down the line.
What‘s Next for Streaming Fans?
While the merger makes industry waves, don‘t expect immediate changes to your HBO Max or Discovery+ accounts. For now, you can largely ignore the corporate machinations and keep streaming your favorite shows.
Looking ahead, the combined libraries will provide incredible value once integrated into one app. The Warner Bros. catalog goes back over 100 years, while Discovery‘s goes back to 1985. That‘s a huge content trove for subscribers.
The merger was approved. Now we‘ll watch and wait for details on the rollout of this new streaming contender. One thing is certain—the streaming wars are only heating up. Buckle in and get ready, because more changes are coming.