HBO Max and Discovery merger could mean fewer streaming services to pay for

You know how you always complain that there are too many streaming services and it feels like you have to pay for like five different platforms just to watch 10 shows you’ve heard about?

This may change. The long-promised sector consolidation seems to be finally happening.

Warner Bros Discovery announced this morning that it will merge the media conglomerate’s two existing streaming services, HBO Max and Discovery+, into one service.

While neither HBO Max nor Discovery+ operate in Australia, the significance of today’s news could herald future changes in the industry that will ultimately affect services available locally.

There are about two dozen subscription video-on-demand platforms in Australia. The sheer number of services has led to frustration among consumers who are being asked to shell out more and more money to access a fragmented software board.

The growth in streaming services is approaching unsustainable levels, especially as customers have begun to assess household budgets in a challenging global economic environment.

The number of streaming services is steadily growing, ranging from niche platforms like horror-focused Shudder to mainstream brands like Disney+.

Consolidation of services in the industry has been discussed for a long time, and the merger of Discovery+ and HBO Max could be the first in the coming wave of development of the sector.

HBO programming, including succession and upcoming Game of Thrones prequel Dragon Houseand Discovery shows such as deadly catch distributed in Australia through Foxtel and Binge*, with some original HBO Max titles going to Stan.

The Warner Bros Discovery announcement offered little detail on what the combined streaming platform could look like, other than that it will roll out to the US in mid-2023. Current timeline of global plans: Latin America at the end of 2023, Europe in 2024 and Asia Pacific in mid-2024.

There is no confirmation as to whether Australia will become one of these Asia-Pacific markets. Warner Bros currently has a multi-year deal with Foxtel that was signed in 2020 with no publicly disclosed end date.

Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav said of the combined streaming service, “We think this product will be excellent.”

According to The Verge, Zaslav hinted that the new streaming platform would be built on the Discovery technology platform, citing the technical glitches that plagued HBO Max.

Changes to Warner Bros Discovery’s current multiple streaming platforms were anticipated earlier this week when it was revealed that the studio had to shelve several projects that had either completed filming or delivered finished work.

The most famous of the canceled films was the DC movie. Bat Girlwhich reportedly had a production budget of US$70 million (AU$100 million).

Early media reports suggested that Bat Girl did not work well with early test audiences, and the studio was unwilling to spend money on reshoots or additional marketing costs.

Other media reports hinted that Bat Girl and canceled projects such as Scoob: Holiday Sanctuary were sacrificed in the name of tax breaks.

Bat Girl the cut sparked speculation about a major announcement about the future of HBO Max, given that the DC movie was commissioned specifically for streaming and not for theaters.

HBO is an American pay-TV network that has produced some of the most famous series over the past three decades, including Soprano, succession, The wire, Game of Thrones, sex in the city as well as vice president.

Although HBO has never directly marketed to Australian viewers, the strength of its brand and association with quality programming has made it an international phenomenon.

HBO Max also holds archives of Warner Bros. films.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: