Warner Bros. Discovery, the parent company of the Max streaming service, has big plans for news and sports on the streamer – and the launch of the sports section is likely to coincide with the Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs on October 3.
That's the good news. The bad news is that the new sports offering is going to cost more for Max subscribers under a new subscription tier.
According to "people familiar with the matter" via CNBC, the company plans to stream games from MLB, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and the National Collegiate Athletics Association, including college basketball's March Madness. In addition to streaming the games, it'll add content such as highlights and interviews from the Bleacher Report, its sports outlet.
Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), which is the owner of the news outlet CNN, also intends to bring news shows to the service. According to CEO David Zaslav, "news and sports are important. They are differentiators. They are compelling. They make these platforms come alive."
And this is all probably going to cost you.
What's next for news and sports on Max?
As Variety reports, in this month's earnings call WBD's JB Parrette, who is in charge of the streaming business, "suggested sports or news could be used to drive an incremental fee for those subscribers who wanted to see such programming".
None of this is surprising, because WBD has been moving in this direction for a while. When it bought the rights to the NHL alongside ESPN, it also got the rights to stream hockey games on Max, something it hasn't yet implemented. And the firm recently said it was experimenting with putting more CNN content on Max to see what type of content might work. It already streams some series, such as the documentary show The Whole Story.
The challenge for WBD is that it's trying to perform a bit of a balancing act with one of the best streaming services. WBD doesn't just own Max, it also owns TNT sports, so it needs to juggle its desire to get more Max subscribers with its need to keep existing TNT subscribers happy and to get more people subscribing to that too. And CNN already has a popular streaming service of its own (CNN+).
As for how much the new content will cost, we don't have details just yet. But during the earnings call, Zaslav said that customers would "hear from us on that soon". Don't expect a huge initial price hike, though. "Our view is sports is a such a premium offering with a very focused and passionate fan base that generally…" Perrette added. "It needs to be monetized incrementally".
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.