Max enters the live sports streaming game

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Warner Bros. Discovery is adding live sports offerings to its streamer Max, the company announced Sept. 19, 2023.

The “Bleacher Report Sports Add-On” will give subscribers access to more than 300 live games from the MLB, NHL, NBA, NCAA Men’s March Madness and U.S. Soccer.

The offering will kickoff just in time for Major League Baseball playoffs, which start in early October 2023.

The add-on package is free to existing Max subscribers through Feb. 29, 2024. After that, users will have to pay an additional $9.99 per month to view events included in the tier.

Other offerings will include pre- and post-game coverage, on-demand content and extended series. This is the first time WBD has brought live sports coverage to a streamer.

WBD will continue to offer live sports coverage on TNT, TBS and truTV.

Live sports on streaming platforms have been growing in popularity as streamers fight for subscribers and eyeballs. NBCUniversal’s Peacock and Paramount’s Parmaount+ both offering live sports, as does Apple TV+. Netflix, meanwhile, appears to be largely avoiding the live sports market.

Live sports are seen as a way to offer exclusive content that users also tend to watch in real-time. In cases where these telecasts are ad-supported, this helps gets ads in front of viewers.

Live sports broadcast rights for major leagues and teams tend to be very expensive, which could be seen as a challenge as streamers battle with soaring production and licensing costs. Sports licensing in general can be complex, with separate rights deals brokered for streaming vs. linear TV, plus different deals covering different types of games (such as men’s or women’s, playoffs or even games on certain days of the week).

The downside of live sports is that there is little value for the content once a few days have passed, unlike movies, comedies and dramas that subscribers might be interested in watching weeks or months after their initial release — or even re-watching.