HBO Max and Discovery+ to merge as economic instability bites

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• “Putting all the content together was the only way we saw to make this a viable business”

As the world comes out of the economic downturn caused by Covid only to stare down a potential recession, some of the world’s biggest media brands are feeling the pinch. 

The Financial Times is reporting that brands like Warner Bros Discovery, Disney, Netflix, Spotify, Fox, Paramount, and News Corp have seen their stock prices halve from what they were during the heights of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Collectively, the top US media companies have seen their market value drop by nearly $US400 billion (AU$574 million) this year. On average, big media stocks have fallen by 35% in 2022, compared with a 13% drop in the S&P 500 index.

Potentially the most highly visible result of the current instability of the landscape is the announcement that HBO Max will be merging with Discovery+, made Thursday morning US time. 

“At the end of the day, putting all the content together was the only way we saw to make this a viable business,” said JB Perrette, CEO and president of global streaming and interactive for Warner Bros. Discovery.

Perrette also said the company was “exploring how to reach customers in the free, ad-supported space” with the new platform.

No name was announced for the new streamer.

HBO Max has made headlines this week after the announcement that Batgirl, a $US100 million movie that had already been filmed, was being scrapped before it could even be released.

Starring Leslie Grace, Michael Keaton, Brendan Fraser, and J.K. Simmons, the film was originally reported to have been pulled after performing terribly with its test audiences, however, there has been no confirmation of this.

HBO Max also recently scrapped Scoob: Holiday Haunt – an animated contribution to the Scooby Doo universe – after $US40 million was spent on the commission. Season three of Ellen DeGeneres’ animated series Little Ellen was also scrapped after completion. 

Earlier in the year, CNN+ was shut down less than a month after it went live – despite spending $US300 million to build and launch the platform. The CNN brand falls under the Warner Media umbrella. 

See More: Why an ad-supported Netflix tier would be “Nirvana for advertisers”

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