Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) has announced when it'll unveil its new so-called super streamer, which is set to replace HBO Max and Discovery Plus this year.
In a press release, WBD confirmed that it'll host an online event on Wednesday, April 12 to reveal its brand-new streaming platform, which is believed to be called Max. The video webcast, which is open to the press and the general public, will begin at 10am PT / 1pm ET / 6pm BST (Australian viewers can tune in at 3 AM AEST on Thursday, April 13).
Responding to TechRadar's question about whether this event will show off WBD's new streaming product to audiences worldwide, a WBD spokesperson simply replied: "Yes". Expect an official name, potential launch date, price plans, how it'll impact HBO/HBO Max deals with UK and other worldwide streamers (more on this later), and more to be discussed during the webcast, then.
We've known that a WBD super streamer was on the cards since the WarnerMedia and Discovery merger was completed in April 2022. Four months after the entertainment companies joined forces, we reported that HBO Max and Discovery Plus would form a new super streamer sometime in 2023. Since then, the two streaming platforms' days have seemingly been numbered.
However, in February, it was revealed that HBO Max and Discovery Plus wouldn't fully merge after all. Instead, Discovery Plus will continue to be offered as a single streaming service to US-based users who don't want to subscribe to WBD's new super streamer. Per The Wall Street Journal, WBD is concerned that it'll lose large swathes of its Discovery Plus user base if it forces consumers to sign up to its combined platform, hence the small change of heart.
It's unclear whether HBO Max's extensive library of movies and TV shows will migrate to WBD's new streaming service when it launches. We're likely to find out more information on April 12 but, for now, the best HBO Max shows and best HBO Max movies are still available to watch on that service, provided you own an HBO Max account.
We'll hopefully find out when the super streamer will be released in the US – and potentially other territories, such as Latin America and parts of Europe – during the event, too. During WBD's Q2 2022 earnings call, executive JB Perrette suggested it could launch stateside in summer 2023. The service would then be rolled out to other world regions – where HBO Max is available, mind you – in 2024.
Analysis: a big question answered, but many more remain
After months of speculation, we've finally learned when WBD will officially unveil its new streaming service. While that big questions has been answered, though, there are many more that still require a response.
As well as the aforementioned concerns around HBO Max content, when and where the service will be rolled out, and how much it'll cost, there are doubts about how this super streamer will impact deals that WBD has with other streaming services globally.
For one, there's the question of how it might impact the HBO Originals that are shown on Sky Atlantic in the UK. Popular TV shows including The Last of Us, House of the Dragon, and Euphoria are broadcast exclusively on Sky Atlantic on British shores, thanks to a four-year licensing deal between HBO and Sky that allows the latter to show these series (and many more) in the UK.
That deal is due to expire this year, but it's expected that Sky and HBO will renew the agreement. WBD's new super streamer could theoretically impact any deal renewal – the aforementioned shows are available on HBO and HBO Max in the US – though, especially if its new streaming platform beams The Last of Us and company into US households. Will, for instance, Sky be asked to pay more for the privilege of showing those shows on Sky Atlantic?
Then there's the HBO Max add-on feature that Hulu users can bolt onto their subscription plan. Currently, Hulu subscribers can add HBO Max as an extra channel (for an additional monthly fee) to their plan, meaning they gain access to the streamer's suite of content, as well as the best Hulu shows and best Hulu movies around. Will this offer be extended for WBD's new super streamer? Or, with the streaming wars hotting up, will WBD prevent Hulu – one of Disney's streaming platforms, with Disney Plus being the other – from offering WBD's super streamer as a bolt-on option for Hulu customers?
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, we're unsure if WBD's new streaming plan will help it to close the gap with Netflix, aka the world's best streaming service. Right now, Netflix is the most popular streamer around, with around 231 million subscribers to its name. By contrast, the combined user base of HBO Max and Discovery Plus sits at a less impressive 96.1 million. For comparison's sake, Disney Plus is the second-most popular service, with 161.8 million users – that's despite Disney Plus suffering its first subscriber loss ever in Q1 2023.
WBD will hope, then, that its mega-streaming service, with its huge back catalog and potentially competitive price point(s), will give it a boost in the battle against its rivals. Until April 12 rolls around, however, we're all in the dark about WBD's super streamer – and how much the entertainment behemoth actually wants to win the streaming wars.
For more HBO Max-based coverage, read about all of the new HBO Max movies that have debuted on the service since December 2022. Alternatively, see if there's a free HBO Max trial in your world region before WBD unveils its new streaming platform.