Discovery CEO thinks merged company will eventually offer single streamer, add a free tier

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Discovery CEO David Zaslav says he expects a free streaming option as well as consolidation to come after his company merges with WarnerMedia.

The deal, which is expected to close in April 2022, will see the two companies form Warner Bros. Discovery.

Currently Discovery operates Discovery+, which pulls content from Discovery and its various networks including, HGTV, Food Network, Magnolia Network and OWN, among others.

WarnerMedia has HBO Max, which features content from HBO, Warner Bros. and numerous other production companies. WarnerMedia’s CNN division is also prepping to launch CNN+, which is being billed as a standalone streamer focused on news, information and longform nonfiction programming.

Zaslav indicated on an earnings call Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, that he envisions the company to eventually offer only a single streaming service with three tiers.

Those tiers would include a free one with limited access to content supported by advertising. A second tier would require a monthly fee and open up more content in exchange for limited ads. Finally, the priciest one would include full, commercial free access to all content.

The approach is similar to what Comcast’s NBCUniversal did with its Peacock service, creating a central hub for all of its entertainment programming from across its various networks and brands in a single offering. NBCU does, however, offer a separate news focused streamer, NBC News Now, but it is completely free.

Streaming has become a key part of most major TV company strategies as it struggles with cord cutting. However, the market is showing signs of reaching saturation and there are signs consumers are getting overwhelmed by the number of options — let alone being willing to pay for all of them, though it’s common for family or friend groups to each pay for one to three services and then share logins with each other.