It really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the two companies’ streaming apps will see a merger of their own once Discovery and WarnerMedia’s merger is complete. As Variety noted, Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels confirmed the move while speaking at Deutsche Bank’s 30th annual Media, Internet and Telecom Conference (that’s a mouthful) on Monday.
This was our first real look at this new company’s content plan. Wiedenfels gave a very loose roadmap for the post-merger streaming app situation. Before the two apps merge into one mega app, there will be some bundling opportunities. (Remember how Disney often bundles Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN together.)
At some point, the two are then combined into one massive and potentially unwieldy beast of a product. I say unwieldy because while HBO Max is a service I watch every damn day, HBO Max is buggy as hell. At least on the Apple TV, trying to navigate directly to a broadcast from Apple’s Up Next feature often requires you to restart the app. In other cases, selecting a show to watch directly in the app will result in a reboot or crash. And if you want to see something as soon as it airs, good luck.
During the Euphoria premiere a few weeks ago, the app kept crashing for many users trying to figure out how mad Cassie was at her sister for her autobiographical stage musical. (Spoilers, she was super pissed.) HBO MAX IS COMPLETELY FAULTY HBO had one of the first streaming apps to simulcast streams of over-the-air content, and you’d think it would have figured out how to handle the insane rush to watch a season finale after it was during several premieres and the finale of Game of Thrones , Mare of Easttown and others. But no, in 2022, HBO Max still crashes if more than 12 people tune in at once. Okay, it probably takes a lot more than 12 people trying to watch a stream at the same time for it to crash – but you get the point. This is a technological flaw that HBO should have fixed years ago. It’s unclear which part of the new company will handle the design of this new combined content app. It is also unclear how much the new app will cost.
Discovery Plus and HBO Max currently both maintain ad-supported and ad-free tiers, with Discovery Plus available at $4.99 per month and $6.99 per month and HBO Max at $9.99 per month and $14.99 per month. If the new company decides to shuffle prices together while shuffling apps and content, it would mean a service that costs around $14.99 and $21.99 per month.
Netflix for reference ranges in price from $9.99 to $19.99 per month depending on the number of screens and the quality of the streams. Netflix also has the best-looking app in the streaming business, with an algorithm that suggests content you actually want to watch. The DiscoHBO app will need more than the next season of Euphoria if it wants to charge more than $20.
But I’m not sure the new company really understands that. Wiedenfels’ presentation was primarily based on the content – not on the quality of the app. “The combination couldn’t make more sense than what we’re doing here. We have HBO Max with a more premium male-centric positioning, and then you have the female positioning on the Discovery side,” he said. He was thrilled when he saw the combined metrics because “in theory, I think the acquisition power of HBO Max combined with the retention power of Discovery content will result in a blowout DTC product.” Yes, content merging will be very appealing, but not if people can’t see it because the app is buggy.