HBO Max and Discovery+ will merge into a single platform. The ghost of the bubble haunts streaming

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Nine months ago we knew that the merger of Warner and Discovery was inevitable. A pair of great powers of entertainment (on the one hand, fiction products in two large branches -Warner and HBO-; on the other, documentaries) that until a few days ago did not make their union effective. Now, they reveal the practical implications of this new situation: HBO Max and Discovery + will join on a single platform.

One platform to unite them all. At a conference organized by Deustche Bank, Gunnar Wiedenfels, CFO of Discovery, confirmed what Variety I had already anticipated a few hours earlier: Starting in 2023, HBO Max and Discovery+ will be one. Our colleagues from Espinof collected that it will not be a sudden change, but progressive: it will start with a bundle, that is, a special package for subscribers who request it, in which both platforms will be included. However, it will not be a definitive option: the intention is that they end up as one.

HBO Max already has the catalog.  Now it only lacks everything else: platform, dubbing and subtitles

Two hundred thousand hours of material. After the merger, valued at 39 billion euros, Warner Bros Discovery will have at its disposal a catalog of more than two hundred thousand hours of series, films and documentaries. It makes sense that they try to combine all of this on a platform that will include channels that already work independently such as Cartoon Network, TNT, TBS, TCM, TLC or CNN, as well as, logically, HBO Max, Discovery Channel and DMax.

This is a move that brings this future channel even closer to Disney+, which already reinforces its Disney hits lineup with a good number of Discovery Channel documentaries. “We have HBO Max, with a position more premium, male-oriented, and you have the female positioning on the Discovery side,” says Wiedenfels, highlighting “people’s daily engagement with Discovery content versus the eventual nature of HBO Max content. Together we are creating one of the most complete products with the four quadrants “old-young-man-woman”.

In Spain, without information at the moment. Wiedenfels’s remarks reveal no plans for Spain, where both platforms operate independently. Discovery+ is priced at 3.99 / 35.99 euros per month or year; HBO Max, from 8.99 / 69.99 euros per month or year. Warner has not commented on the matter and, in fact, has not officially communicated the merger to the press in Spain.

future prospects

A streaming bubble? But this merger also suggests another option: that we are approaching the much predicted bubble of the streaming of which some media already warned in pre-pandemic times, that is, before Netflix or HBO experienced out of control growth due to the confinement that the entire planet experienced. Are the big production companies trying to be present in the battle of the platforms, yes, but also trying to diversify their offer as little as possible so as not to suffocate viewers?

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It is enough to see how in recent times, powerful platforms such as Netflix or Disney + try to grow, but always vertically, never diversifying into new brands. Even leaving its usual field, as is the case with Netflix and its commitment to video games, the intention is always that the platform is unique. In that sense, the latest failed and notorious experiment in diversification was DC Universe, the platform for streaming DC superhero that has ended up being absorbed by HBO Max, the conglomerate core of that universe (among other things).

The unavoidable cleaning. DC Universe was the most notorious case (because of its short life and because in a short time it was able to put up productions as stimulating as ‘Swamp Thing’ or ‘Harley Quinn’), but not the only one. Proposals that were based on a differentiating format, such as Quibi, or that sought to strongly oppose the already established Netflix or HBO, such as YouTube Premium in its original content production company format, were falling or being absorbed by sister companies.

More streaming for 2022: SkyShowtime will arrive in Europe with content from platforms such as Peacock and Paramount+

The immediate future. The new big player to arrive in 2022 is Sky Showtime, which adds to this trend of conglomerate previous brands. This Comcast and ViacomCBS platform unifies such popular brands as Sky, NBCUniversal, Universal Pictures, Showtime, Paramount Pictures and Paramount+ under one umbrella. At the moment, the figures from studies like this one from consumer habits in the post-pandemic world that Verizon did do not indicate a decrease in the consumption of streamingand in that sense the platforms have not taken their foot off the accelerator.

It remains up in the air to see if this type of integrating movement of tentacles of entertainment corporations is a way to minimize expenses and not exhaust the consumer or a 2022 version of “when the neighbor’s beard you see cut.” The fear of the bursting of the bubble, for the moment, it’s still up in the air.

Nine months ago we knew that the merger of Warner and Discovery was inevitable. A pair of great powers of…

Nine months ago we knew that the merger of Warner and Discovery was inevitable. A pair of great powers of…

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