Discovery will merge streaming services HBO Max and Discovery+ after it completes its acquisition of WarnerMedia, the company has said.
The $43bn deal, announced in mid-2021, was ratified on 11 March by Discovery shareholders and is set to close in early 2022.
While there had been much speculation on whether the company would continue operating HBO Max and Discovery+ as independent entities, Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels has provided a concrete answer.
Speaking at the Deutsche Bank Annual Media, Internet & Telecom Conference, Wiedenfels confirmed that the two services will be combined rather than being offered as a bundle.
Bundling, however, will be an initial step of integration while the new company – which will operate as Warner Bros. Discovery under current Discovery CEO David Zaslav – considers the best method of merging the platform.
Wiedenfels said: “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.”
Suggesting that the transition will take “several months,” the exec noted that the primary focus will be on “harmonising the technology platform” and “building one very, very strong combined direct-to-consumer product and platform.”
Upon the completion of the merger, Warner Bros. Discovery will own a library of more than 200,000 hours of films and series, ranging from the unscripted giant’s shows such as Gold Rush and Deadliest Catch, to WarnerMedia’s Friends and Succession.
At present, Discovery+ has 22 million subscribers globally while the HBO brand has 73.8 million. There are no details on what pricing for the combined service will look like, with Discovery+ currently starting at $4.99 in the US while HBO Max is available from $9.99 per month.