Discovery chief financial officer Gunnar Wiedenfels announced the plan for the first time at the Deutsche Bank 30th Annual Media, Internet & Telecom Conference on Monday, amid speculation that HBO Max and Discovery Plus could remain two separate platforms with bundling options.
The fusion of the two streamers, however, will take time. And according to Wiedenfels, the first step towards their integration will be some form of bundling.
“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,” Wiedenfels said of the planned integration of HBO Max and Discovery Plus into one streaming service. “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.”
Wiedenfels continued: “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.”
Why merging HBO Max and Discovery Plus into one platform is a sound plan?
The content libraries of HBO Max and Discovery Plus have very little overlap. HBO Max offers an impressive lineup of Warner Bros. titles and franchises, while Discovery Plus mainly streams reality-focused programs from Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, and Animal Planet. In this regard, the two separate platforms complement one another.
“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,” Wiedenfels explained.
He added: “I’m really excited about it. I can’t wait to see the first combined direct-to-consumer (DTC) 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.”
How much will the combined HBO Max and Discovery Plus service cost?
Discovery Plus is priced at $4.99 per month with ads and $6.99 without ads, while HBO Max currently costs $9.99 per month with ads and $14.99 per month without ads. While Wiedenfels did not reveal the price point for the combined HBO Max and Discovery Plus streaming service, he did note that the integrated platform will both have ad-free and ad-lite subscription plans.