Warner Bros. Discovery confirms it will eventually merge HBO Max, Discovery+ streamers
By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links
The companies are still in the early stages of finalizing plans and no formal timeline, pricing or branding has been announced.
Executives did indicate, however, that an initial step toward combing the service will be some sort of bundling offer, presumably with some sort of savings for subscribing to both, though potential terms of that have not been announced.
What wasn’t mentioned was plans for CNN+, which will also become part of the newly formed Warner Bros. Discovery once the merger closes. CNN+ is set to launch March 29, 2022, as a standalone streamer.
After getting the OK from Discovery shareholders, the Discovery-WarnerMedia merger is set to close sometime in the second quarter of 2022.
While the companies did not announce plans for what the eventual, combined streamer might be called, the decision to use one of the existing names has both advantages and disadvantages.
Discovery+, which is named after both the parent company and the classic TV channel, has strong connotations to that, which, in turn, conjures the nature documentaries that it has featured for years, though programming today veers more toward unscripted and reality series. HBO, on the other hand, has a long history of being associated with feature films (the letters are short of “Home Box Office”) as well as cutting edge shows such as “The Sopranos.”
Neither of those names necessarily do a perfect job of conveying the full extent of content that would presumably be available on a merged service, which would encompass programming from Discovery, HGTV, Food Network, Magnolia Network, OWN, HBO, Warner Bros. Films and TV studios, Turner, TBS, TNT and more.
It’s possible that a combination of the existing names, such as Discovery Max or HBO+ could be selected, though those names still have the legacy of their respective channels to be considered.
Could the name end up being “Discovery+Max” or “Discovery Max+”? Hopefully not, especially since it’s essentially duplicative to say something is both “max” (or “maximum”) and “plus.”
The “+” branding has is already used by numerous streaming services, including Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu + Live TV, ESPN+, Paramount+ and AMC+, which is one reason the use of the word “max” at least helped the HBO branded offering stand out namewise.
It’s also possible the new streamer could take on a variation of the Warner Bros. Discovery name itself, such as Warner Bros. Discovery+ (though that’s quite a mouthful), or perhaps something shorter such as WB Discovery+.
There’s also the option to go with a completely new name, such as streamer like Tubi, Xumo or Crackle, that have been backed by various big names in media but are branded with standalone names that don’t have a strong connection to their parents.
There’s probably a good chance Warner Bros. Discovery will eventually conduct some kind of market research before settling on a name.
By not mentioning CNN+, executives could be signaling it will either remain its own service or that they simply haven’t made a call yet, which, given that the service hasn’t even launched, seems likely.
While CNN+ content, especially is documentaries and docuseries, could fit well into a combined HBO Max-Discovery+ streaming offering, its live and exclusive news and talk shows would be more unique. CNN+ is also slated to have an interactive component that will also differentiate it a bit.
That said, it’s probably at least a year or so before HBO Max and Discovery+ get merged, so a final call on if the service will become part of the combo streamer could depend heavily on how well it performs after launch and what shows and features are kept.
CNN+ is late to enter the streaming game and it remains to be seen if users will pay another monthly fee for another service, despite its potentially low price.
It’s facing competition from the subscription based Fox Nation, which offers a mix of original programming and primetime repeats from the Fox owned commentary cable channel, as well as the free 24 hour news streaming services NBC News Now and ABC News Live as well as MSNBC’s “The Choice” channel on Peacock.
Now, Live and The Choice are all free but ad supported.