Throughout the week, unconfirmed news and speculation potentially drastic cuts at HBO Max have left viewers and subscribers in a panic over the streaming platform’s future, its celebrated original shows and its plentiful back catalog.
Then came the news on Tuesday that the executives have eliminated the movie “Batgirl”. – recently shot for a scheduled release only for HBO Max – with no intention of making it available for viewing anywhere. HBO Max subscribers have also noticed some of the platform’s original movies disappearing in the last few days.
All of this is the result of HBO Max’s parent company, WarnerMedia, which recently completed its merger with Discovery. The company has cut programming on many of its brands, including CNN + goes off abruptly a few weeks after launch; TBS scales down much of its comedy programming; and HBO Max which prioritizes its children’s and family programs, such as deleting “Gordita Chronicles”.
However, various announcements Thursday suggested that the future of HBO Max, which may be the absolute best streaming platform in terms of the quality of its original shows, may not be as bad as feared, at least for now.
During a phone call about the company’s earnings on Thursday, the executives announced plans to combine HBO Max with Discovery’s streaming service Discovery +, with the aim of launching the new service in the United States in summer 2023.
Earlier in the day, the company announced that some Magnolia Network programs from Chip and Joanna Gaines, who is part of Discovery, will be available on HBO Max starting September 30. The platform will feature a special page of Magnolia Network content, including all five seasons of “Fixer Upper”, “Fixer Upper: Welcome Home”, “Magnolia Table with Joanna Gaines” and “Family Dinner with Andrew Zimmer”. The shows will still be available on Discovery + as well.
In a similar move, several CNN programs will also be available on Discovery + starting August 19, including “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown”, “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy”, “United Shades of America” by W. Kamau Bell and Lisa Ling’s “This is life.” More CNN programs will gradually be added to Discovery + on a special hub page after they air on CNN.
Asked for revenue, JB Perrette, the company’s head of global streaming, said this “content sharing” will continue to be part of the company’s streaming strategy before the new combo service is ready for launch.
He also said the company is exploring different subscription and pricing tiers, including an ad-supported free tier, with more details to be announced later this year.
Asked by an investor about rumors of “gutting” HBO Max, CEO David Zaslav dismissed the idea and said the company would continue to spend on HBO Max, calling it “an amazing asset.”