Get Ready for HBO Max and Discovery+ to Become One Mega-Service

Get Ready for HBO Max and Discovery+ to Become One Mega-Service
Photo: Presley Ann / Stringer, Getty Images

Months after announcing that WarnerMedia and Discovery will merge into one media behemoth sometime in 2022, executives hinted during an earnings call on Wednesday that it probably makes a lot of financial sense for their flagship streaming services, HBO Max and Discovery+, to combine into one entity, too.

JB Perrette, president and CEO of Discovery Streaming and International, said during the earnings call that the salvaged parts of both streaming services would amount to an “incredibly attractive tech buffet” for consumers to pick from. In describing the next steps for the two companies, Perrette added that consumers might see the merger unfold in two steps: an initial phase that sees the two services bundled together, and then a secondary phase where the two streaming services are fused into one common platform.

“There will be meaningful cost savings from combining into one platform,” Perrette said. “I think there also will be meaningful consumer benefits from combining into one platform.”

Bundling the two services is definitely an interesting idea, particularly because there doesn’t seem to be a ton of overlap in their subscriber bases to begin with. While HBO Max strikes a delicate balance of prestige drama, documentaries, and comedy offerings, Discovery+ is mostly packed with fluffier content, including home remodeling shows, reality dating shows, and whatever Carole Baskin’s Cage Fight is.

Still, executives on both sides of the merger seem pleased with how things are coming along thus far — and no one seems happier than the top brass at AT&T, the company that unloaded WarnerMedia just three years after convincing the Justice Department to approve the transaction.

It’s the circle of life, at least as far as the streaming wars are concerned: Big multinational companies create streaming platforms, acquire each other, retreat from their initial investments, and then try to bundle their big services together in an effort to shore up users and market value. At the end of the day, the most customers can do is cross their fingers and hope their streaming subscriptions still end up cheaper than cable.