Just a few weeks ago, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav claimed that things were going so well over at the company that it was expediting its plan to merge HBO Max and DIscovery Plus into a not-so-secret third thing with an unimaginative name. Now, though, those plans are changing for reasons that Warner Bros. Discovery probably should have seen coming.
The Wall Street Journal reports that while Warner Bros. Discovery is still launching a new service called Max, it now plans to keep a version of just Discovery Plus running in an effort not to lose many of the platform’s current 20 million subscribers who might not be willing to sign up for Max and its higher price point when it launches sometime this spring.
While “most” of Discovery Plus’ content will live on Max, a significant portion of it will remain on the old DIscovery Plus platform, which ranges anywhere from $4.99–$6.99 per month, depending on whether you want ads or not. Prices have yet to be announced for Max, but with HBO Max subscriptions ranging from $9.99–$15.99 a month, it’s easy to imagine some Discovery Plus customers balking at the idea of being upcharged to jump over to a platform they didn’t exactly ask for.
As serious as Warner Bros. Discovery may be about putting HBO Max behind it, the company also doesn’t want to lose its valuable Discovery Plus subscriber base in the process, which is why this backtracking doesn’t really come as a surprise. Keeping Discovery Plus around might be a prudent financial decision. But it also highlights how — even now — Warner Bros. Discovery might not always be considering the fallout of Zaslav’s big, brash executive decisions that’ve made the company seem stuck in a state of disarray for the better part of the last year.