Warner Bros. Discovery is making good on plans to bring live sports to the Max streaming service, announcing Tuesday a Bleacher Report Sports add-on tier that launches October 5.
Notably the add-on brings simulcasts of all WBD’s premium live linear sports – including more than 300 live games each year across MLB, NHL, NBA, NCAA Men’s March Madness, and U.S. Soccer, among others – to Max, alongside Bleacher Report live video content and an on-demand library.
The B/R add-on tier will be available to all Max subscribers at no additional cost for a limited promotional period through February 29, after which it’s priced at $9.99 per month on top of monthly cost for the ad-lite, ad-free or premium Max plans.
All live games will continue to air on WBD’s linear networks including TNT, TBS and TruTV and will now also be accessible on Max through the B/R add-on. It’s the first time WBD’s live sports portfolio is available on streaming.
“We want to be everywhere sports fans are and our unparalleled offering of leading sports, combined with the power of the Bleacher Report brand and content, including the unique way B/R engages with young sports fans, all delivered through the new Max platform will enable us to broaden our audience and delight new fans,” said Luis Silberwasser, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery Sports, in a statement. "We are uniquely positioned to offer viewers the best selection of premium sports and exciting events and fan-focused additional programming, all within a fantastic multi-sport product that will meet the evolving consumption needs of our viewers – both casual and hardcore sports fans.”
The launch of the B/R Sports add-on is in time for the MLB postseason, starting with the National League Division Series on October 7. The add-on will also feature live pre- and post-game programming, and on-demand content including sports documentaries, Bleacher Report highlights and events, special features and extended series. Bleacher Report live video will also be available including coverage of the NFL Draft.
The announcement makes good on earlier comments from WBD CEO David Zaslav who had said live sports would be part of Max and coming to the platform sooner than later, but hadn’t disclosed what that would like and whether the assets would be folded into the platform or promoted as a separate bundled offering.
Speaking at an investor conference in September, Zaslav noted that WBD’s U.S. sports deals, including March Madness, NHL, and MLB, among others are very attractive as they’re long-term agreements that grant linear rights but also allow for WBD to put sports on digital channels for no incremental fee.
“As cable has declined, the ability to recapture audience on digital with no incremental cost of sports rights is quite attractive,” Zaslav commented during the Goldman Sachs Communacopia + Technology Conference.
The addition further boosts the Max offering, which aims to offer something for everyone. Having launched in May under the Max umbrella that incorporates both premium HBO content and unscripted and lifestyle-focused Discovery programming, just earlier this month WBD disclosed the September 27 launch of CNN Max, a 24/7 live news stream featuring popular anchors and shows of the linear channel.
During WBD’s second quarter earnings call in August, Zaslav categorized news and sports as key differentiators, while highlighting the draw of live TV for SVODs.
“News and sports are important, they’re differentiators, they’re compelling and they make these platforms come alive,” he commented on the earnings call. “And if you’re on an SVOD platform and something is going on in the world, and you could see it… it makes that platform really alive.”
The Bleacher Report add-on is the latest example of how WBD is looking to leverage its broad content portfolio on streaming, while a push for sports and news on Max also comes at a time when scripted content and Hollywood is largely at a standstill as dual writers and actors strikes drag on.