Discovery+ To Be Combined With HBO Max By Warner Bros Discovery

The streaming wars are in for another impending shake-up, though one that might ultimately serve to benefit the consumer in the long run. It's now confirmed that HBO Max and Discovery+, two wildly different streaming services, will be merging together in the not-too-distant future once the new mega-media corporation Warner Bros. Discovery emerges from the upcoming merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia.

According to Variety, the merging of the two services has been confirmed by Gunnar Wiedenfels, the CEO of Discovery who will be in charge of the new company once the merger is completed. Shareholders recently voted to approve the merger, meaning we're mere weeks away from the deal being totally done. Speaking at the Deutsche Bank 30th Annual Media, Internet & Telecom Conference, Wiedenfels had this to say:

"One of the most important items here is that we believe in a combined product as opposed to a bundle... We believe that the breadth and depth of this content offering is going to be a phenomenal consumer value proposition. The question is, in order to get to that point and do it in a way that's actually a great user experience for our subscribers, that's going to take some time. Again, that's nothing that's going to happen in weeks — hopefully not in years, but in several months — and we will start working on an interim solution in the meantime. So right out of the gate, we're working on getting the bundling approach ready, maybe a single sign-on, maybe ingesting content into the other product, etc., so that we can start to get some benefits early on. But the main thrust is going to be harmonizing the technology platform. Building one very, very strong combined direct-to-consumer product and platform, that's going to take a while."

When two become one

Much remains uncertain for the time being, but the CEO didn't speak in riddles — the plan is absolutely to merge these two very different services as soon as it's feasible to do so. On the one hand, Discovery+ is home to a lot of very digestible content, with the likes of TLC, The Travel Channel, HGTV, and Animal Planet under that roof. Think "90 Day Fiance," "Battlebots," and "Property Brothers." Meanwhile, HBO Max has everything under Warner Bros., HBO, Cartoon Network, and then some. DC, "Game of Thrones," "The Matrix," "Harry Potter." These are two very different sets of content that, when combined, will cast a much wider net. That's why the $43 billion price tag is worth it for Discovery, and why they're raising $30 billion in debt to make it happen. Added Wiedenfels:

"The combination could not make more sense than what we're doing here. We have HBO Max, with a more premium, male-skewing positioning, and then you've got the female-positioning on the Discovery side. You've got the daily engagement that people enjoy with Discovery content versus sort of the event-driven nature of the HBO Max content. Take that together, I have no doubt that we will be creating one of the most complete, sort of four quadrant, old-young-male-female products out there. And I'm really excited about it. I can't wait to see the first combined direct-to-consumer metrics because, in theory, the acquisition power of HBO Max, combined with the retention power of the Discovery content I think is going to make for a blowout DTC product, and that should certainly drive very healthy revenue growth for years to come."

Up until now, it wasn't clear whether the plan would be to keep these services separate like Disney does with Disney+ and Hulu while offering a bundle, or go with combining them. It sounds like a bundle will happen out of the gate but, that is a mid-term solution. These services will eventually be combined, and that means a whole lot more content for subscribers under one roof — and one less service to subscribe to. As for what this does to the price in the long run? That remains to be seen, but a price increase does not seem out of bounds. The merger is expected to be completed early in the second quarter of this year, so these gears will be turning very soon. We'll be sure to keep you posted as further details come our way.