With the Launch of “Max,” Streaming Enters a New Era of Consolidation

Lon Harris
Lon Harris is a contributor to dot.LA. His work has also appeared on ScreenJunkies, RottenTomatoes and Inside Streaming.
With the Launch of “Max,” Streaming Enters a New Era of Consolidation
Evan Xie

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As of Tuesday, it’s official: Warner Bros. Discovery’s (WBD) two major streaming platforms – HBO Max and Discovery+ – have merged into the unified “Max” service. For most current subscribers, the shift will happen automatically in the background; their HBO Max interface will simply update to the new Max service on its own. Some others may be prompted to download the latest version of the app.


Price-wise, everything’s remaining the same; Max is $9.99 per month with ads or $15.99 per month without. WBD is adding one new tier, with 4K Ultra HD streams, the ability to download content for offline viewing, and immersive Dolby Atmos audio on selected titles. That’s going to run $19.99 per month.

The biggest immediate change users will likely note upon moving from HBO Max to just Max is a significant expansion of the platform’s streaming library. Max launches with around 35,000 hours of content, more than double the catalog depth of its predecessor.

Something Akin to Cable 2.0

More than a decade after the massive explosion in the popularity of streaming platforms as an alternative to cable and satellite TV, a period of consolidation is now underway. Next month, on June 27, Paramount Global will formally abandon the Showtime standalone streaming service in favor of the “Paramount+ with Showtime” offering. (Showtime content is already available as a premium add-on with a Paramount+ subscription. The changeover in June will just formalize the connection and eliminate the option to stream Showtime without Paramount+.)

AMC Networks has followed a similar trajectory. While the company’s streaming strategy was initially built around small, lower-cost, niche streaming services – like British TV-focused Acorn TV and horror movie-centric Shudder – a subscription to the flagship AMC+ service now folds in content from across the company’s offerings, as an added inducement for sign-ups.

Speaking at a media conference last week, Warner Bros. Discovery chief David Zaslav suggested that this is just the beginning. He argued that media and entertainment companies should begin joining forces to offer bundles or package deals including even more services. That doesn’t mean merging, as WarnerMedia and Discovery Networks did in order to form Warner Bros. Discovery in the first place. This is something more akin to Cable 2.0, line-ups of multiple streaming services that are all accessed through one monthly subscription, featuring a wide assortment of entertainment styles and genres for the whole family.

Zaslav suggests that, if companies like WBD, Disney, and Comcast’s NBCUniversal don’t make these kinds of arrangements on their own, it will be done for them, potentially by the streaming hubs that already exist. During his presentation, he specifically namechecked Amazon, Apple TV+, and Roku, which of course offer a variety of third-party subscriptions through their own central streaming platforms.

Still, this is a curious argument, mainly because platforms like Roku and Amazon Prime Video Channels are entirely opt-in. If Warner Bros Discovery didn’t want consumers to have the ability to package together Max alongside Paramount+ and Peacock on Amazon’s platform, they could just decline Amazon’s offer. In fact, HBO Max was unavailable via Amazon Prime Channels from mid-2021 through the end of 2022, when they made a new deal with Amazon to return. (That agreement extends through the end of 2024.) Amazon couldn’t force Zaslav’s hand if he wasn’t interested in bundling Max. Perhaps he simply meant such a package offering would be so tantalizing for consumers, there’s no rational way Warner Bros. Discovery could decline to participate.

Cable TV is a Flat Circle

What’s perhaps most intriguing about Zaslav’s suggestion – and the idea that consolidation will completely alter the streaming landscape in such a major way – is how thoroughly his new proposal mirrors the old cable TV system. Streaming, after all, was conceptually promoted to consumers as an improvement to cable television, not just a recreation of the same model but online.

Whereas one cable subscription signs you up for all the content at once, streaming services are a la carte, giving viewers more options and increasing competition, which theoretically leads to not just better deals but higher-quality programming. These individual streamers would also be cheaper than an all-inclusive cable package, allowing TV fans to save money by just selecting the content they most wanted to see. Bundling multiple services together basically eradicates these changes; we’re once again paying one big bill each month for all the content together.

Beyond just historical revisionism, there are some potential complications to Zaslav’s proposed scheme. One of the big sticking points between platforms like Amazon and Roku and content providers like Apple, Warner Bros Discovery, and YouTube owners Google has been around sharing data. If a new customer signs up for Max via Amazon, which company owns that customer and their information? Who gets access to the demographics that allow them to customize their advertising experience?

Consolidation of this sort provides some clear benefits to the studios, streamers, and the tech and telecom companies that own them. Currently, each new fiscal quarter brings fresh scrutiny to subscriber numbers and churn rates. Bundling all the streaming services together takes some of the individual load off. Even if interest in Disney+ dips in Q2, well, maybe a new season of “House of the Dragon” on Max makes up for it, and the overall subscriber picture doesn’t change.

Consumers may ultimately prefer this kind of system as well. It would cut down on the confusion about what shows and films are available to stream on which platforms and would make the entire streaming experience more consistent and reliable. No more wanting to watch a “Harry Potter” film, only to find that they’ve jumped from Peacock to Max. Bundles would likely also be cost-savers for heavy streaming users who are already signed up for five or more individual platforms, which accounts for around 10% of all subscribers in the US.

So if consumers really are willing to go along with a scheme that turns streamers back into cable, studios and platforms may be all too willing to comply. No more complaining about your monthly cable bill though… we’d all have to acknowledge that we did this to ourselves.

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🏰 Disney's Epic Investment Stands Out Amidst Gaming Industry Layoffs

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

🔦 Spotlight

In the midst of widespread gaming industry layoffs, a glimmer of positive news emerges as Disney announces a significant move: a $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games. 🏰💰🐭

Image Source: Disney

Disney's $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games, disclosed late Wednesday, signals a strategic alignment aimed at expanding the success of "Fortnite." The deal enhances Epic's growth prospects after financial setbacks, including layoffs, and strengthens the partnership between the two companies. With Disney gaining a larger equity stake in Epic, the collaboration will broaden the integration of beloved Disney franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Avatar into the game, potentially boosting its appeal and longevity. This significant investment underscores Disney's commitment to interactive entertainment and signifies a shift towards games as a primary revenue stream, aligning with the growing trend of digital engagement among younger demographics. Moreover, the potential for crossover sales of physical Disney products within "Fortnite" and the exploration of new content distribution channels are just some of the opportunities arising from this partnership.

For LA tech, the Disney-Epic Games partnership represents a validation of the region's burgeoning tech and gaming ecosystem. The substantial investment in Epic, who maintains a large Los Angeles office with 1,000+ employees (according to LinkedIn), reflects confidence in the LA’s talent pool and innovation potential. Additionally, this partnership between two industry giants fosters an environment for further collaboration, investment, and growth within LA's tech sector. As Disney and Epic Games deepen their ties and explore new avenues for content integration and distribution, it not only elevates the prominence of LA as a tech hub but also stimulates economic growth and job creation in the region. This partnership highlights LA's unique position as a hub where technology and entertainment converge. With its ability to integrate diverse industries, LA is driving innovation and expansion in digital entertainment. 🚀💸🎮

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • ProducePay, a financing and marketplace platform for the fresh produce market, raised a $38M Series D led by Syngenta Group Ventures joined by Commonfund, Highgate Private Equity, G2 Venture Partners, Anterra Capital, Astanor Ventures, Endeavor8, Avenue Venture Opportunities, Avenue Sustainable Solutions, and Red Bear Angels. - learn more
  • Blush, an invite-only dating app that drives users to local businesses on dates, raised a $7M Seed Round from individuals like Naval Ravikant. - learn more
  • Mogul, a startup founded last year that provides an overview of an artist's royalty earnings and identifies areas where money is owed but has not yet been collected, raised a $1.9 million seed round from Wonder Ventures, United Talent Agency, AmplifyLA, and Creator Partners. - learn more
  • Avnos, a hybrid direct air capture startup, raised a $36M Series A led by NextEra Energy and joined by Safran Corporate Ventures, Shell Ventures, Envisioning Partners, and Rusheen Capital Management. - learn more
  • AI.fashion, startup whose mission is to help retailers enhance the online shopping experience by providing consumers with virtual try-ons and personalized fashion recommendations, raised a $3.6M Seed Round led by Neo. - learn more
  • Suma Wealth, startup that aims to demystify financial topics and provide culturally relevant content, virtual experiences, and resources to help Latino users navigate financial challenges and opportunities, raised a $2.2M Seed Round . Radicle Impact led, and was joined by Vamos Ventures, OVO fund and the American Heart Association Impact Fund. - learn more
  • 222, a startup that helps users discover their city and meet new people through unique social experiences, raised a $2.5M Seed Round. Investors included 1517 Fund, General Catalyst, Best Nights VC, Scrum Ventures, and Upfront Ventures. - learn more
  • LimaCharlie, a security operations cloud platform, raised a $10.2M Series A led by Sands Capital. - learn more
  • Polycam, an app that uses a smartphone’s sensors to capture 3D scans of objects, raised an $18M Series A co-led by Left Lane Capital and Adjacent, and joined by Adobe Ventures and individuals like Chad Hurley and Shaun Maguire. -learn more.

LA Venture Funds

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a startup building software to decarbonize logistics for logistics businesses and goods business through a vetted marketplace and optimization software. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $1.5M Pre Seed Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

Venture Waves, Climate Tech Wins, and Silicon Beach's Ongoing Evolution

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Anduril Seeks $1.5B in VC Funds

Defense company Anduril Industries Inc., based in Costa Mesa and founded by Palmer Luckey, is seeking to raise $1.5 billion in fresh funds to boost its valuation to $12.5 billion or more, according to sources quoted by The Information. This fundraising effort, if successful, would mark one of the largest venture capital rounds of the year.

Image Source: Anduril

Anduril recently secured a contract to develop and test small unmanned fighter jet prototypes under the Air Force’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program, beating out major defense companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. Alongside General Atomics, Anduril will design, manufacture, and test these aircraft, with a final multibillion-dollar production decision expected in fiscal year 2026. This program aims to deliver at least 1,000 combat aircraft to fly in concert with manned platforms and is part of the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance initiative. Central to Anduril’s success in this contract is the Fury autonomous air vehicle, acquired through the purchase of Blue Force Technologies. This victory underscores Anduril's rapid advancement in the defense sector, aligning with Luckey's vision of building faster and more cost-effective defense assets. - learn more

Los Angeles Ranks Number 1 in Emerging Climate Tech Hub

The 2024 Emerging Climate Tech Hubs Report by Revolution highlights Los Angeles as a burgeoning center for climate tech innovation. LA's growth in this sector is driven by its diverse talent pool, strong research institutions, and a culture of environmental consciousness. The city's unique mix of legacy industries, such as entertainment and aerospace, alongside emerging tech companies, positions it as a pivotal player in the climate tech landscape. This shift reflects a broader trend of decentralized climate tech funding across the U.S., reducing the historical dominance of California's traditional hubs. - learn more

Silicon Beach: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Assessing the overall health of the startup market is challenging, especially as venture capital funding has decreased by an average of 61% from 2021 to 2023 across the top VC markets in the US. Markets with robust ecosystems in AI, SaaS, Biotech, Healthtech, and Fintech appear to be weathering the downturn better than those focused on Consumer and Gaming industries, areas where Los Angeles traditionally excels.

Percent Change In VC Funding By Region

CB Insights

LA Times paints a rather bleak outlook on the Los Angeles tech scene noting venture capital funding in Greater Los Angeles plummeted 73% from 2021 to 2022. Silicon Beach, once a vibrant tech corridor, currently faces high vacancy rates and lacks late-stage financiers, especially in the AI sector. However, there are positive signs, including growth in aerospace startups and increased venture capital investment in early 2024, suggesting a potential rebound for LA's tech ecosystem.

While LA may not be exceeding expectations during this period, its tech ecosystem warrants a nuanced evaluation, given the broader market dynamics and its strong performance in specific sectors. Reach out to us with your thoughts.

🚀 SpaceX gears up for another stellar year, active raises, and more

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Happy Friday Los Angeles! You made it through the first week of 2024!

🔦 Spotlight

Elon Musk may be a divisive (albeit entertaining) figure, but the continued success of SpaceX is pivotal for the aerospace industry in Los Angeles and more broadly around the world.

Image Source: SpaceX webcast

What happened with SpaceX in 2023?

  • Elon Musk challenged Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg to a cage fight.
  • SpaceX launched 96 successful missions with its Falcon series of rockets, a 57% increase over its previous annual record.
  • SpaceX conducted two test flights of the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, Starship.
  • Roughly two-thirds of SpaceX's launches in 2023 were devoted to building out Starlink, the company's satellite-internet megaconstellation.
  • Isaacson’s Elon Musk biography was published in September including everything from Musk’s tumultuous relationship with his father to his work ethic and “demon mode”.

Moving forward what can we expect from SpaceX and its controversial founder? Continued innovation pushing the aerospace industry to new limits? Yes. More drama? Without a doubt.

Here is some of what is to come in 2024:

🤝 Venture Deals

Just Announced

Check back next week!

LA Exits

  • CG Oncology, an Irvine, CA-based developer of immunotherapies for bladder cancer, filed for a $100M IPO. It plans to list on the Nasdaq (CGON) with Morgan Stanley as left lead underwriter, and has raised around $317m in VC funding. - learn more
  • McNally Capital agreed to sell Advanced Micro Instruments, a Costa Mesa, CA-based maker of gas analyzers and sensing technologies, to Enpro (NYSE: NPO). - learn more

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a hard-tech startup that is developing a technology for decarbonizing natural gas, is raising a $1.5M Seed Round. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $250K Angel Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

📅 LA Tech Calendar

Sunday, January 7th

Wednesday, January 10th

  • Startup Cafe: Networking with a Kick - Entrepreneurs, Startups, and Tech Enthusiasts join together to meet and connect with like-minded people, industry professionals and investors, while enjoying a nice cup of coffee in Venice at The KINN. This week’s interactive discussion about AI’s evolution in entertainment will feature Dr. Sam Khoze and Rachel Joy Victor.
  • Venice Tech Happy Hour- Join Startup Coil and FoundrHaus Wednesday evening and enjoy the sunset from the rooftop, grab a bite overlooking Abbot Kinney, and mingle with other tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs by the bar on the patio.

Have an awesome event coming up? Reach out to be featured on next week’s Newsletter!

📙 What We’re Reading

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