Late last decade, when it seemed all major media giants were forming their own exclusive streaming services, WarnerMedia announced its own efforts to that end in 2018. The year after that the platform got its name: HBO Max, after WarnerMedia’s iconic cable channel. HBO Max would debut in 2020, the first year of the COVID pandemic. When various Warner Bros. films could not premiere conventionally in closed cinemas, they went straight to HBO Max. In that way, plus original productions, they built an impressive library of content. But barely three years after launch, the streaming service will undergo significant change.
As reported by The Verge, change is coming to HBO Max streaming in the form of a merger. Sometime in the middle of 2023 the SVOD service will combine with another streaming platform, Discovery+ which itself only started services in 2021. This merge came about as a logical next step following the merger of WarnerMedia (after splitting from AT&T) and Discovery Inc. last April, forming Warner Bros. Discovery. In the same manner as their parent companies, HBO Max and Discovery+ will combine, as explained by Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav past Thursday, August 4.
During a WBD earnings call, Zaslav noted that the HBO Max-Discovery+ merge will benefit in that the latter’s tech support base would compensate for a rash of streaming performance hiccups on the part of the former. In return, the massive entertainment content of HBO Max would complement Discovery+ and its factual programming library. The move is not all wine and roses however. Preparations for the merger required HBO Max to cancel development of further original content films and series. Furthermore, some existing Max Original content have been pulled from streaming without notice. But that does not quite sting as much as the stoppage of prospective HBO Max-exclusive DC superhero film “Batgirl”, and a prequel to hit 2020 Scooby-Doo film “Scoob!”
These developments have led to entertainment news sources predicting dire straits for HBO Max and Warner Bros. Discovery overall. Zaslav has been playing damage control regarding these fears, saying that WBD is fully supportive of HBO Max, which he describes as becoming a brand of its own. That however does little to assuage expectant fans of “Batgirl”, which was reportedly almost done in production. With the merger not yet due until next year, there are no hints yet as to what the combined HBO Max-Discovery+ platform will ultimately be called.
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