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The streaming wars just got a new heavyweight contender.
HBO Max and Discovery Plus will combine into a single subscription service after Discovery completes its merger with WarnerMedia this year, Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels said Monday.
The decision creates a streaming platform with the content arsenal and customer base to compete with the upper echelon of streaming giants, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus. The combined app will include WarnerMedia’s HBO premium shows and Warner Bros.’ movies, as well as Discovery’s roster of unscripted programming.
Some initially speculated that the soon-to-be-merged media giant—which will be called Warner Bros. Discovery—could keep its HBO Max and Discovery Plus apps as standalone products. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has long been a proponent of the cable bundle, which has been similarly applied to the streaming service model by the likes of Disney.
“I think combining all of the content into a single app will ultimately make it much more compelling for the consumer and make it a true competitor to Netflix's breadth and depth of content,” Bloomberg industry analyst Geetha Ranganathan told dot.LA.
The move is not just about content. Warner Bros. Discovery can cut costs by streamlining multiple apps, bringing marketing and technology efforts under a single roof, she added. Plus, Discovery’s cable channel content – already edited with natural commercials in mind – is optimized for the ad-supported model that consumers are gravitating towards.
“HBO Max wants to accelerate an advertising tier and Discovery’s content will help them do that,” said Michael Nathanson, of the MoffettNathanson tech and media research firm.
Many details remain, from when the combined service will launch to how much it will cost. HBO Max is already on the pricier side at $14.99 per month (or $9.99 with ads), while Discovery Plus currently costs $4.99 per month with ads or $6.99 without. A combined app that costs more than $14.99 would seem to be a nonstarter for many consumers, some of whom already plan to ditch a subscription this year because it's too expensive.— Christian Hetrick
Former Disney CEO Bob Iger Joins Avatar Startup Genies
In his first career move since leaving the Walt Disney Co. board last year, Iger is investing in and joining the board of Marina del Rey-based Genies, a startup that builds virtual avatars.
Rising Gas Prices Are Driving Up EV Sales—And Prices
As inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine cause gas prices to creep up, more drivers are considering electric vehicles. But many EV manufacturers are finding that supply chain challenges and production delays are preventing them from capitalizing on the rising demand.
Global Venture Funding Dipped $10 Billion in February
Startup investors poured $10 billion less into companies than they did in January. The decline suggests investors have grown cautious amid headwinds like inflation, stock market turmoil and the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Amid a Turbulent Month, Rivian Hires a New COO
The Irvine-based electric automaker announced that it hired Frank Klein as chief operations officer, tasking him with improving Rivian’s vertical integration and scaling up its production capacity.
What We're Reading Elsewhere...
- Activision Blizzard reps are disinvited from speaking at SXSW conference due to misconduct allegations.
- Mashable reviews "Under the Influence," a new documentary about the rise and fall of L.A. influencer and entrepreneur David Dobrik.
- Former employees accuse L.A. wellness brand Moon Juice of hypocrisy.
- Beverly Hills-based Insomniac Events partners with Unity on immersive concerts.
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