Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. is close to offering an expanded slate of live sports on its Max streaming service and will probably require subscribers to pay extra to watch basketball, hockey and other events.
(Bloomberg) — Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. is close to offering an expanded slate of live sports on its Max streaming service and will probably require subscribers to pay extra to watch basketball, hockey and other events.
The company is still working out the details for adding MLB, NHL and NBA games to Max, which it relaunched in May, executives said Thursday on a call with investors.
It’s a complicated decision, with potential upsides and downsides. A separate tier would generate more revenue, helping cover the cost of sports rights without forcing film and TV fans who get Max to pay extra. But rival services like Peacock offer live sports with no added fee, helping them attract subscribers and potentially making them look like a better deal.
Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav said Thursday that the Warner Bros. is completing plans to put sports on Max.
“We have significant digital rights in the US that we’re not currently deploying but plan to in the future,” Zaslav said. “And that has a real chance to create meaningful strategic value.”
Warner Bros. has one of the industry’s largest sports portfolios. In the US alone, it broadcasts the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and college basketball’s March Madness. It’s currently in negotiations with the NBA about renewing its media rights.
Warner Bros. has the rights to simulcast hockey and baseball on Max, meaning those games could air simultaneously on its cable channels, which include TNT and TBS.
The company’s head of streaming, JB Perrette, added that Warner Bros. will want to charge more for fans to watch live sports online.
“Our view is sports is a such a premium offering with a very focused and passionate fan base,” Perrette said on the call. “It needs to be monetized incrementally, let’s put it that way.”
In other parts of the world, the company has taken different approaches. In the UK, it has put sports on a separate, more expensive tier. The company charges £4 pounds ($5) a month for basic Discovery+ and a total of 30 pounds ($38) for the premium tier that includes Premier League soccer, rugby, the Ultimate Fighting Championship and WWE wrestling.
In some parts of Latin America, it broadcasts sports without charging subscribers extra.
Currently in the US, Max charges $10 a month with ads and $16 for commercial-free service.
Warner Bros. started putting some live sports on Max this year, including US soccer matches.
“The platform now has full capability to deliver live programming,” Zaslav said on the call.
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