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Warner Bros. Discovery Experiences Subscriber Decline After Max Launch, but Streaming Revenue Grows



Warner Bros. Discovery faced a decline of 1.8 million subscribers in the three months following the launch of Max, their streaming service. However, this decline was not limited to Max alone, with the company's global subscribers across all services decreasing from 97.6 million to 95.8 million. Despite this, executives remain optimistic, attributing the dip to overlapping subscriber bases and anticipated churn. The company's streaming revenue, on the other hand, saw a 13 percent increase, reaching $2.73 billion this quarter. Let's delve deeper into Warner Bros. Discovery's recent developments and future plans.


Warner Bros. Discovery's Chief Financial Officer, Gunnar Wiedenfels, cited two main reasons for the subscriber decline. Firstly, there were overlapping subscriber bases between HBO Max and Discovery Plus. Secondly, the conclusion of the popular series, The Last of Us season 1, and the finale of Succession contributed to expected churn among subscribers.


Despite the subscriber dip, CEO David Zaslav expressed confidence in the company's streaming business, stating that they anticipate profitability in the US streaming market by the end of this year. He further revealed plans to launch Max internationally over the next year, while also enhancing the platform's capabilities for live programming.


The loss of subscribers did not adversely impact the company's streaming revenue, which experienced a significant boost, growing to $2.73 billion. Warner Bros. Discovery strategically replaced HBO Max with Max, bundling both HBO and Discovery Plus content in a single platform. The company introduced a new "Ultimate" plan with access to 4K content, alongside the existing $9.99 per month subscription, while Discovery Plus retained its standalone subscription priced at $4.99 per month.


Max's Potential Expansion and Incorporation of Live Programming:

Zaslav revealed the company's plans to expand Max to international markets and highlighted the platform's ability to deliver live programming. While details remain scarce, he hinted at the possibility of incorporating news and sports into Max. This move could potentially differentiate the platform and attract a wider audience.


Warner Bros. Discovery aims to exit the regional sports network business, planning to either sell or cease operations of its networks by year-end. The company currently airs local baseball, basketball, and hockey games through AT&T SportsNet channels.

The ongoing Hollywood strikes have had an impact on Warner Bros. Discovery's production efforts, resulting in "modest cash savings" this quarter. However, the company anticipates significant upside to its free cash flow going forward. The CEO stressed the importance of settling the strikes promptly, as the creative community's contributions are essential to telling great stories.

Warner Bros. Discovery may have experienced a decline in subscribers following the launch of Max, but the company remains focused on growth and expansion. The strategic bundling of content and potential incorporation of live programming could bolster Max's appeal. As the company aims to settle the Hollywood strikes, it continues to navigate challenges and seek opportunities for future success in the competitive streaming market.

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