The Desk appreciates the support of readers who purchase products or services through links on our website. Learn more...

WBD pushes back date to charge for streaming sports through Max

(Stock image via Pexels, Graphic by The Desk)

Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) has delayed plans to charge Max subscribers a separate fee in order to watch live sporting events that are simulcast from its cable networks TNT, Tru TV and TBS.

Last year, WBD introduced the add-on using the Bleacher Report brand name, with B/R Sports offered to Max subscribers who purchased one of its two commercial-free tiers, which start at $16 per month.

The B/R Sports add-on gave Max subscribers instant access to professional basketball and hockey games that aired on its three sports-inclusive cable networks, allowing fans to watch those games without having to pay for cable, satellite or a comparable streaming service.

When the plan was introduced last year, WBD executives said the sports add-on would be offered at no extra cost until the end of February, at which point WBD intended to charge a nominal fee of around $10 per month for continued access.

The timing was not coincidental: WBD shares the rights to the March Madness college basketball tournament with Paramount Global’s CBS Sports, and WBD hoped to capitalize on the start of the tournament by pushing Max subscribers to purchase the B/R Sports add-on if they wanted to watch the games. (Separately, CBS-aired games are available through Paramount Plus with Showtime, which offers live access to local CBS stations).

But technical issues will prevent those plans from moving forward, with WBD officials confirming this week that the B/R Sports add-on will remain free through the tournament, and possibly longer than that.

“The B/R Sports Add-On will continue to be made available to Max subscribers on us for a few more months as we finalize some tech integrations that will ensure a more seamless customer experience with our platform partners,” a WBD spokesperson said in a statement. “We’ve seen great engagement with live sports on Max so far and look forward to continuing to delight fans with upcoming premium sports events like March Madness, the NBA, and NHL.”

News of the delay was first reported by entertainment trade publication Deadline, and confirmed separately by The Desk and other sources.

Prior to offering sports through Max, WBD worked for several months to renegotiate its contracts with the sports leagues and teams, to ensure it had digital distribution rights to the games for Max.

Afterward, WBD franchised a model used for its Discovery Plus platform overseas, which offers live events broadcast by Discovery-owned multiplex channel Eurosport.

The act of building a sports-inclusive streaming business in Europe was less daunting there than it was here, in part because Discovery already had the elements in place to market the service and bill customers for it. In the United States, the company is facing many of those same challenges with Max, and is working on an accelerated timeline to get those same elements in place.

Get stories like these in your inbox, plus free breaking news alerts on business and policy matters involving media and tech.

Get stories like these in your inbox, plus free breaking news alerts on business and policy matters involving media and tech.

Photo of author

About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
Home » News » Industries » Streaming » WBD pushes back date to charge for streaming sports through Max