At Warner Bros. Discovery’s first earnings call as a merged entity, the company announced that it would be merging the content currently on HBO Max and Discovery+ onto a new unified streaming service in 2023. This move will combine the company’s assets into a one-stop shop for consumers looking to take advantage of its deep library of content. The new service will be even better positioned to compete against other streamers for audience attention. Currently HBO Max is the platform with the third largest share of demand for series available on its platform in the US, trailing Netflix and Hulu by a decent margin. Pulling in the Discovery+ library into its offering will put it on more equal footing to compete with Netflix and Hulu in this measure.
As of Q2 2022, Warner Bros. Discovery has the second largest corporate share of demand for series that fall under its corporate umbrella. Its 17.8% demand share here trails Disney by less than 2%. This metric is a good way to assess the long-term viability of the top media companies as they look to consolidate their original content’s availability exclusively onto their own platforms. The merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery launched the new company into second place, leapfrogging Paramount and putting it within striking distance of Disney in the contest to become the dominant cross platform media company with US audiences.
Of course it isn’t just about having the most content, but ultimately the most effective content mix. Looking at the audiences of both HBO Max and Discovery+ series, it is apparent that these two audiences are complementary and a combined streaming service will have the goods to attract viewers from across demographic segments. For example, while the audience for series on Discovery+ skews heavily female, the audience for series on HBO Max is slightly more male leaning than average. With respect to age cohorts, these two content libraries have the potential to draw in distinct audiences. Content on Discovery+ strongly over-indexes with over-40’s which will help fill in HBO Max’s large underperformance with this group. Merging two streaming platforms like this will be a tricky undertaking but Warner Bros. Discovery has the extensive library of content and the right blend of shows to pull this off. Its rivals would be wise to stay on guard.