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Discovery+ to remain standalone service after WBD launches combined streamer

Magnolia Network’s Fixer Upper: Welcome Home

Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) has shifted course and will now keep Discovery+ as a standalone service in the US even after it launches its combined streaming offering later this year.

Under its initial plan, HBO Max and Discovery+ were to be integrated within a single new streaming product that would include the full libraries of both.

That service – which is yet to be named, although reports suggest it will be called Max – remains on course to launch in the US in the spring before rolling out in Latin America, followed by other regions before the end of the year.

With the adjusted strategy, Discovery+, which had more than 22 million global subscribers at last count, will continue to be available as a standalone offering in the US.

According to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), which first reported the news, the decision was made because WBD execs felt some Discovery+ subscribers would be unwilling to pay a significant price increase for the combined service.

In the US, Discovery+ costs US$6.99 without ads and US$4.99 with ads. The ad-free version of HBO Max, meanwhile, costs US$15.99 while the ad-supported tier costs US$9.99. It is expected that the combined service will be more expensive than HBO Max is currently.

The combined service will now include HBO Max content and most of Discovery+’s content, according to WSJ. Programming that will be available on both the new service and Discovery+ includes Discovery Channel’s Shark Week and programming from Magnolia Network, such as Fixer Upper: Welcome Home.

Combining HBO Max and Discovery+ into a single offering that could take on Netflix and Disney was among the primary reasons for merging WarnerMedia and Discovery. While the decision to keep Discovery+ as a standalone service does not necessarily undermine that idea, it reflects WBD’s increasing willingness to place its programming across various services and platforms to maximise profits.

Last week, WBD revealed deals that will take more than 200 WBD-owned titles, including big-budget HBO drama Westworld, to AVoD giants Tubi and The Roku Channel.

Across all of its direct-to-consumer platforms, including HBO Max and Discovery+, WBD had 94.9 million subscribers after the third quarter. WBD will report its fourth-quarter financials in two weeks.

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