After the WarnerMedia and Discovery merger is finalized, the company’s two major streaming services, HBO Max and Discovery+, will be combined into a single streamer—eventually.
With the pending merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery looming as early as next month, Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels—who will also serve as CFO for the combined Warner Bros. Discovery—confirmed Monday morning that Discovery+ and HBO Max will be consolidated into one service, according to multiple reports.
Discovery is preparing to offer both ad-free and ad-lite products for the future streamer. But the combined offering is not imminent, and the upcoming Warner Bros. Discovery will first provide a bundle of the two streamers while the new company figures out the best way to merge the platforms.
“One of the most important items here is that we believe in a combined product as opposed to a bundle … We believe that the breadth and depth of this content offering is going to be a phenomenal consumer value proposition,” Wiedenfels said Monday morning during Deutsche Bank’s investor conference. “The question is, in order to get to that point and do it in a way that’s actually a great user experience for our subscribers, that’s going to take some time. Again, that’s nothing that’s going to happen in weeks— hopefully not in years, but in several months—and we will start working on an interim solution in the meantime.”
That solution includes a bundling approach with the possibility of a single sign-on, per Wiedenfels.
Discovery CEO David Zaslav, who will also helm the new company, previously talked about “our eventual merged offering” when it comes to the merged company’s streaming services—Discovery+ and HBO Max—but did not elaborate on whether those platforms will ultimately be bundled or combined. Wiedenfels comments offered more clarity, but still no concrete timeline.
Discovery shareholders voted Friday morning to approve the merger with WarnerMedia, which is expected to radically reshape the media landscape. Discovery said the deal is expected to close early in the second quarter, with sources eyeing a likely April date.
The two companies will be combining their media assets, WarnerMedia and Discovery, to create a new streaming-centric media company. Discovery+ debuted in January of last year, and the company reported 22 million global direct-to-consumer subscribers in the fourth quarter—which includes Discovery+ and other platforms.
On the WarnerMedia front, HBO and HBO Max combined for 73.8 million subscribers globally at the end of the year, and HBO Max alone increased to 46.8 million, up 5.3 million for the full year.