WBD unveils Max streamer cost & launch, with Harry Potter drama & ‘The Sympathiser’ joined by raft of new shows

The Sympathiser

Warner Bros. Discovery has unveiled its new streaming service, which has been named Max and will launch in the US on 23 May.

The streamer, which takes the place of HBO Max, was unveiled at a press launch on the Warner Bros. Studio lot in LA (and streamed to press globally) with prices and content details revealed.

Max will house HBO originals, Warner Bros. films, Max originals, shows from the DC universe, Harry Potter and a raft of kids, food, home, reality, lifestyle and documentary content from brands including HGTV, Food Network, Discovery Channel, TLC and ID.

Cost & content

The service will be available as ‘Max Ad-Lite’ for $9.99/month or $99.99/year (two concurrent streams, no offline downloads), while a ‘Max Ad Free’ will cost $15.99/month or $149.99/year (two concurrent streams, 30 offline downloads).

The ‘Max Ultimate Ad Free’ will cost $19.99/month or $199.99/year and allows four concurrent streams, up to 4K UHD resolution and 100 offline downloads. In the US, HBO Max had cost $16 per month, or $10 for its ad-supported tier, while Discovery+ is at the lower price of $7 and $5 respectively.

Survive The Raft

WBD said Max is aiming to be a “complete viewing experience for all ages” and will average around 40 new titles and seasons every month.

Newly confirmed titles include a Max original Harry Potter series, based on the book series by JK Rowling, who will serve as executive producer.

A Max original comedy series derived from The Big Bang Theory is also in the works, alongside an HBO original Game of Thrones prequel, titled A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight.

A drama series based on The Conjuring films has also been greenlit, while on the unscripted and animation side there is Magnolia Network’s Fixer Upper: The Hotel, Discovery Channel’s Survive The Raft, Max original Peter & the Wolf from Bono and Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty: The Anime.

Other shows available include Investigation Discovery’s Lost Women of Highway 20, Cartoon Network’s Tiny Toons Looniversity and TLC’s Love & Translation.

The slate joins previously announced shows including The Penguin starring Colin Farrell, HBO drama The Sympathizer and True Detective: Night Country starring Jodie Foster and Kali Reis. Max kids original include Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, while HGTV’s four-part Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge will also be carried.

Broader content offering & international

The launch has been hotly anticipated and comes after WBD ushered forward Max’s roll-out, after it was initially revealed following the $43bn merger between Discovery and Warner Media last year.

Discovery+ is being retained as a solo streamer after the launch of Max, whose named has been widely predicted.

While much has been revealed about the US service, little detail has emerged around international plans. WBD has previously said Max is set to roll out in the Latin America later this year, with the combined service targeting Europe and Asia in 2024, although there were no new details today.

Peter & The Wolf

TBI has previously reported that plans for Discovery+ in EMEA are being assessed by WBD on a market-by-market basis, where it is likely to remain in countries covered by the media giant’s output deal with Sky, including the UK, Germany and Italy.

The pay TV giant also has an output deal for HBO content, as do other major pay operators such as Foxtel in Australia. The latter extended its deal earlier this year, highlighting WBDs shifting stance from pure exclusivity. However, details of WBD’s deal, including length, have not been revealed.

JB Perrette, president & CEO of global streaming & games at WBD, said Max “signals an important change from two narrower products, HBO Max and Discovery+, to our broader content offering and consumer proposition. While each product offered something for some people, Max will have a broad array of quality choices for everybody.”

Casey Bloys, chairman & CEO of HBO and Max content, added: “We know we can satisfy any craving because we have the brands that people love. At Max, they will find what they want, when they want it.”

The exec has previously compared the new service to the cable bundle and told TBI exclusively last month that the tubulence in the streaming market is set to continue for some time.

The streamer will also offer deeper personalisation “beyond just the home page”, with a “differentiated and high-performing experience for every user across the whole service.”

WBD said in its release that it had “significantly increased our investment in machine learning while maintaining an editorial voice,” allowing Max “to deliver a unique human and machine approach that will help surface the best content for our users.” Max is also introducing a default kids profile for new subscribers along with accompanying parental controls.

The service will also offer 4K UHD to its Ultimate Ad-Free tier. All Warner Bros. movies released this year and in years ahead will also be available in 4K UHD when they arrive on Max following their theatrical windows.

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