Warner Bros. Discovery unveils new flagship streaming service, ‘Max’

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Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra Targaryen in HBO’s “House of the Dragon,” a prequel to “Game of Thrones.”
Warner Bros. Discovery

Warner Bros. Discovery on Wednesday unveiled its new blended streaming service of HBO Max and Discovery+, called “Max.”

Warner Bros. Discovery executives have been planning to combine HBO Max and Discovery+ for more than a year as part of the rationale for merging Discovery Communications and WarnerMedia, which was divested from AT&T in April 2022.

The new service will launch on May 23.

“Max is the one to watch, because it’s home to shows that have a supersized effect on people and culture,” Zaslav said during a presentation in Burbank, California. “It’s streaming’s version of must-see TV.”

The new streaming platform will combine scripted dramas like HBO’s “Succession,” “White Lotus” and “House of the Dragon” with Discovery’s unscripted staples like cooking, home improvement and survival shows.

It will include everything currently on HBO Max and Discovery+ and will add several new series, including a DC Comics series “The Penguin,” a show derived from tentpole sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” as well as new series from Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Network

Max should allow Warner Bros. Discovery to better compete with Netflix and Disney’s suite of streaming services (Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+) globally as the streaming wars mature in the coming years. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has said his company’s direct-to-consumer products will break even in 2024 and produce $1 billion in profit in 2025.

“It gives us a huge opportunity as a company,” Zaslav said. “Together, these studios allow us to control our own destiny. They give us long-term business optionality. We are this industry’s biggest and most successful maker of content.”

Legacy media companies have pivoted away from traditional pay-TV and built their own subscription streaming products as millions of Americans cancel cable each year.

Warner Bros. Discovery had more than 96 million global streaming subscribers, from either HBO Max, HBO or Discovery+, at the end of the fourth quarter. About 55 million of those customers came from the U.S. and Canada. Average monthly revenue per user was $7.58.

“Holding subs is as important as adding subs,” Zaslav said Wednesday.

Max will include new tech features including the launch of a default kids profile that comes with parental controls. Warner Bros. Discovery executives said on prior investor calls that a focus for the new service would be revamping and improving its technology.

Disclosure: Comcast, which owns CNBC parent NBCUniversal, is a co-owner of Hulu.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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