Warner Bros Discovery’s announcement this week about their rebrand of HBO Max to Max was missing one major thing — sports. Moreover, is Warner Bros soccer streaming part of Max’s future?
Currently, Warner Bros-Discovery is the home of US Soccer rights. HBO Max broadcasts many games involving the USMNT and USWNT, as well as the US Open Cup on Bleacher Report. However, HBO Max is yet to be known for being a go-to place for streaming sports. So the absence of sports being mentioned in this week’s press conference was very noticeable.
Warner Bros. Discovery does have the rights to select NHL and NBA games, but those are only on linear TV. At least for the soccer coverage, games are often simulcast on both linear TV and the paid platform of HBO Max.
During the press event, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said sports, as well as live streaming of news content, is a major part of the plan at the company’s future.
“In a few months, we’ll come back to you with details of our attack plan to use this important and differentiating live content to grow our streaming business even further,” Zaslav said.
Warner Bros Discovery soccer streaming
So, what does this ‘attack plan’ look like for soccer coverage? Well, it could mean more soccer on Max. That being said, TV and streaming rights for soccer leagues are shattering records, as the Premier League and MLS indicate. Moreover, with pay-TV subscriptions to TBS and TNT pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars in ad revenue, Warner Bros. Discovery is increasingly hesitant to make the move to entirely to streaming.
“You will see news and sports deployed to drive our overall streaming domestically and around the world,” Zaslav said.
Our Pick:Includes: USMNT and USWNT, original shows, movies and more
If that is the case, and Warner Bros. Discovery does want to add potential soccer leagues, it faces the challenge of properly charging consumers. Apple has been under fire, and perhaps at a loss, as MLS fans balk at paying $14.99 per month for one league. There have been musings, though, over a potential sports-only tier for Max, as discussed in early February.
ESPN+, for example, is sports-only. It has NHL, soccer and other sports, just like Max from Warner Bros. Discovery can. Then, the challenge is getting subscribers on yet another streaming service.
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