Today Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav noted that the merger of HBO Max and Discovery Plus went so well that the target launch date for the new service would shift from Summer 2023 to Spring 2023.
From their user interface to their backend to their content, the two services are extremely different, with HBO Max likely leading Discovery Plus in subscriptions, as it had approximately 76.8 million users in April prior to the acquisition and the combined services now 94.9 million. have subscribers. But Zaslav’s plan has always been to merge the two services, which his team says target very different markets. Earlier this year, there was a slide claiming that HBO Max skewed a man and Discovery Plus skewed a woman offended users of both services even while reinforcing Zaslav’s view of the matter.
As I’ve noted before, Zaslav isn’t really concerned about who gets offended in his quest to get Warner Bros. Making Discovery a profitable business. During the call for profit, he noted that when the show Fixer-upper: the castle premiered on HBO Max and quickly made it into the top five most-watched programs on the service, confirming WBD’s “thesis” that a combined app will be more successful, generating more subscriptions and less churn. The show also aired on the Magnolia Network and streamed on Discovery Plus.
It is Zaslav’s hope that this unified app will not only lead to more subscriptions, but also significantly higher ad revenue. As for the content coming to the new service, the plan is to spend even more money on new content. “We’re leaning forward,” he said during the phone call. Though he noted early in the call that “it’s no longer about how much, it’s about how well.”
To that end, he also cited content that was abruptly pulled from WBD’s services earlier this year. The moves happened so suddenly that they often surprised even the creators of the show themselves. “We didn’t take any show off the platform that would help us in any way,” Zaslav said, pointing out that WBD spent the money saved on new content. This is probably great to hear if you have a new one Game of Thrones pitch but absolutely worthless if you are one of the many animators who saw their shows disappear overnight.