Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) has modified its plans to marry the content libraries of HBO Max and Discovery Plus later this year, which originally called for both apps to be shut down in favor of a single streaming service.
According to a report published by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, executives at WBD are now leaning toward offering a significant amount of Discovery Plus shows, documentaries and other programming in an ultra-premium streaming service — which is tentatively called “Max” — while keeping Discovery Plus as a lower-priced option.
The move is intended to placate some of Discovery Plus’ 20 million subscribers who may not want to pay more for a unified streaming experience, the Journal said, citing unnamed sources who were purportedly familiar with the company’s plans.
Currently, Discovery Plus costs around $5 a month for content that is subsidized by commercials, though streamers can pay just a few dollars more to remove ad interruptions in most shows. HBO Max costs $10 a month for an ad-supported tier and $16 a month for a commercial-free option. Max, which could debut as early as this summer, is likely to cost the same as a current HBO Max subscription.
WBD is still planning to include some top-tier Discovery Plus content in the Max library, including programming from the flagship Discovery Channel’s annual franchise “Shark Week,” reality shows from the brand’s Magnolia Network.
In addition to the forthcoming Max service, WBD is exploring the possibility of developing its own free, ad-supported streaming service, the Wall Street Journal said. Last month, WBD began licensing some of its HBO Max content to the Roku Channel and Fox Corporation’s Tubi TV for their own free streaming TV services.