Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. plan to offer live sports at no additional cost on its Max streaming service for a limited period of time later this year, betting basketball, baseball and hockey will lure new customers, according to people familiar with the matter.
(Bloomberg) — Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. plan to offer live sports at no additional cost on its Max streaming service for a limited period of time later this year, betting basketball, baseball and hockey will lure new customers, according to people familiar with the matter.
Customers will need to pay an additional amount for sports starting next year, likely around February or March, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing plans the company hasn’t made public.
Warner Bros. airs the March Madness college basketball tournament on its cable networks and has discussed using the games as a selling point.
Warner Bros. holds media rights to some of the most popular sports, including the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball, and is just now figuring out how to use them to benefit its nascent streaming business. It has been talking to major sports leagues to ensure it has the rights to stream them.
Max costs $10 a month for a version with ads and $16 a month for the commercial-free plan. Warner Bros. had nearly 96 million subscribers to its streaming services globally at the end of June. While Max customers can access the full library of movies and TV shows from HBO and Warner Bros., they must still pay for cable TV to watch live sports.
That’s starting to change at Max and across the industry. Walt Disney Co. has talked about making ESPN, the most popular sports network on cable, available online to people who don’t have a cable or satellite subscription. Paramount Global already offers professional football on its namesake streaming service, while Comcast Corp. has secured rights for soccer and football on Peacock.
Live sports are the biggest draw on TV and command premium advertising dollars. But media companies that make popular sports available on streaming risk undercutting their profitable, if declining, cable networks. Disney channels are unavailable to customers of Charter Communications Inc. at the moment due to a dispute over fees.
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