WBD is in the process of vetting different names, but Max is so far the most likely candidate, people familiar with the matter told CNBC. The service’s layout will look similar to Disney+’s platform, the people said, containing landing hubs to WBD brands HBO, Discovery, DC Comics, Warner Bros., among others.
The company in its last earnings call announced it’s accelerating the launch of the HBO Max-Discovery+ service, setting the debut for spring 2023 rather than summer. To prepare for the launch, WBD chief David Zaslav said the company has been migrating some Discovery+ content to HBO Max.
WBD is also tweaking user experience features on both platforms. On HBO Max, it started to roll out an end card feature that provides recommendations for what to watch next after a show ends. Additionally, WBD this summer unveiled a redesigned HBO Max app with cleaner navigation and increased functionality for mobile users.
As for Discovery+, this week it launched an offline downloads feature for ad-free subscribers in the U.S. Users can choose from over 58,000 episode titles to download onto an iOS, Android or Amazon FireTablet.
There’s no limit on the amount of content a user can download, as long as they have enough space on their device. Subscribers can access content 30 days from the time of download. Once they press ‘play,’ they’ll have 48 hours to watch the content before it expires, just like with the offline download feature for HBO Max.
WBD has touted HBO Max and Discovery+ complement each other because they have unique subscriber bases. HBO Max, for instance, skews towards a male demographic interested in premium scripted content. Whereas Discovery+ generally has more female subscribers who are interested in unscripted, lifestyle content.
Integrating HBO Max and Discovery+ is also part of WBD’s broader cost-cutting efforts. The company in July announced it would stop producing HBO Max original content in several European countries. Not long after that, WBD laid off 100 members of its ad sales team, as part of previously reported plans to reduce its ad sales force by as much as 30%.
Since WarnerMedia and Discovery finalized their merger in April, WBD has been carrying roughly $53 billion in debt. The company recently increased its annual cost savings target from $3 billion to $3.5 billion, and it expects to incur as much as $4.3 billion in pre-tax restructuring costs related to the merger.
Alongside its SVOD ambitions, WBD plans to enter the free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) space. WBD has yet to reveal much information on what its FAST service would look like, but the company has stated FAST content would be distinct from its premium SVOD programming.
WBD this fall launched MotorTrend – its first entertainment-focused FAST channel – on Samsung TV Plus.