Warner Bros. Discovery brings forward streaming combination

Warner Bros. Discovery detailed plans for its forthcoming streaming service that will combine the HBO Max and Discovery+ platforms.

Warner Bros. Discovery now has 94.9 million streaming subscribers, but disappointed analysts with less favourable results.

The company posted a third-quarter loss of $2.3 billion including $1.5 billion in pre-tax restructuring charges.

2.8 million new streaming subscribers were added in the quarter, but distribution revenue decreased by 6%, as declines in wholesale revenues primarily due to the Amazon Channels expiration in September 2021 were partially offset by retail gains.

CEO David Zaslav told a conference call that technical changes to HBO Max, such as displaying recommendations to viewers at the end of the show was helping to increase viewer engagement.

It was the first time executives shared strategic plans for the new service, which had been anticipated as WarnerMedia and Discovery officially merged earlier this year.

It’s now planned to bring forward the merger of HBO Max with Discovery+ to spring 2023, rather than the earlier date of Summer 2023, with plans to “aggressively target” the advertising-supported streaming market.

The WBD streamer and premium channel had been the intended home of a string of movies, but now new titles including The Flash, Wonka and The Color Purple will premier in movie theatres.

“Launching a two-hour or an hour-and-40-minute movie direct-to-streaming has done almost nothing for HBO Max in terms of viewership, retention or love of the service,” said Zaslav.

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