WB Boss Changes HBO Max And Discovery+ Streaming Plans In A Way That'll Make Reality TV Fans Happy

Chip and Joanna Gaines in Magnolia warehouse
(Image credit: Magnolia Network)

For quite a few months now, streaming audiences have been anticipating (both optimistically or pessimistically) the impending arrival of Warner Bros. Discovery’s previously confirmed streaming platform merger, which is set to franken-smash together its steadily popular HBO Max and Discovery+ services to better reflect the corporate merger that went down in 2021. But while those initial plans were geared around one single streaming entity to draw in customers, WBD execs have reportedly loosened up on that objective in a way that should make reality TV stars breathe a sigh of relief.

While Warner Bros. Discovery is indeed still moving forward with releasing a mash-up platform for online consumption, possibly under the name Max, it won’t actually be the sole home for streaming content. It looks like those with HBO Max subscriptions will be facing some changes, while everyone else who’s focused only on Discovery+ likely won’t need to deal with any change-ups whenever the merging occurs. According to Deadline, that service will remain available for current and new subscribers.

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It appears as if pricing is the impetus behind this major tweak in the process, and in a way that actually appeals to consumers as opposed to the company itself. Initial reports cited worries about whether Discovery+ fans would balk on having to pay higher monthly prices for the paired-up service after growing accustomed to paying lower fees to stream content such as the 90 Day Fiancé franchise, tons of Magnolia shows from Chip and Joanna Gaines, and an array of paranormal-geared programming from Jack Osbourne, Eli Roth and more. Especially if the data shows that those audiences likely won’t dive hard into Team HBO’s scripted fare like The Last of Us or The House of the Dragon

After all, HBO Max currently sits right at $15.99 a month for ad-free plans, after having raised its prices to kick off 2023, while the ad-supported plan goes for $9.99. Considering Discovery+’s prices skew quite lower, at $6.99 (ad-free) and $4.99 (with ads), it’s understandable that WBD’s execs aren’t putting their full faith in customers being eager and willing to pay double or more for shows and movies they may have zero interest in. Granted, HBO Max has been introducing more and more Discovery+ content into its own library, but that’s not so much of a draw for those who already have access. 

Even beyond the changes that were made, it sounds like there’s still a blanketed concern that even consumers who DO want everything from Harley Quinn to Trixie Motel still won’t want to cough up more money for a combined platform. HBO Max already sits among the most expensive services out there, and even though the Warner Bros library is rife with mega-hits across film and scripted television, audiences who are far more engaged with reality TV fare likely wouldn’t pull out their wallets to throw money at. 

This decision is the latest in a line of surprising moves made by those at the head of Warner Bros. Discovery. We all remember the big content purge last year, which halted production on Batgirl and excised a bunch of original fare. (A move that inspired a mini-trend of out-of-nowhere cancellations from other streaming services.) The company has licensed out some of the content stripped from the service, such as Westworld, to other streamers like Roku and Tubi, while there are plans for a similarly focused FAST channel to be introduced later in 2023. 

With The Last of Us currently crushing the ratings game week in and week out across its first four episodes, Warner Bros. Discovery likely doesn’t need to worry too much about winning over the customers who are already there to watch such content. So I’m as interested as anyone to see how things shake out with Discovery+ maintaining its standalone existence once the combined platform is publicly available. 

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.