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Last Friday, WarnerMedia and Discovery officially merged into a single entity. The company is now called Warner Bros. Discovery. All signs pointed to the company quickly merging its existing streaming services, but a recent move could have thrown a wrench in the works. Seemingly out of nowhere this week, Discovery Plus became available on The Roku Channel.
It certainly wouldn’t have been a particularly surprising or notable move in a vacuum – after all, Roku is the biggest smart TV platform in the US. But why would Warner keep pushing Discovery’s streaming service if it’s about to be gobbled up by HBO Max?
The Roku Channel is Roku’s free, ad-supported live TV service. It offers thousands of on-demand TV shows and movies along with over 200 live channels that viewers can stream for free. The Roku channel also integrates premium streaming services, similar to Prime Video channels. It’s a convenient way to access multiple services under one roof.
On Tuesday, Roku added Discovery Plus to the selection of premium subscriptions. You can sign up for Discovery Plus on The Roku Channel right now for $6.99 per month. There’s also a seven-day free trial if you want to test the waters before you start paying.
What does this mean for HBO Max?
The reason it’s such a surprise is due to recent comments from Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels. Here’s what Wiedenfels said last month at Deutsche Bank’s 2022 Annual Media, Internet and Telecommunications Conference, according to Variety:
One of the biggest things here is that we believe in a combined product as opposed to a bundle… We think the breadth and depth of this content offering is going to be a phenomenal value proposition for the consumer. The question is, to get to that point and do it in a way that’s actually a great user experience for our subscribers is going to take some time. Again, this is nothing that will happen in weeks – hopefully not years, but months – and we will start working on an interim solution in the meantime. So right off the bat, we’re working on preparing the aggregation approach, maybe single sign-on, maybe ingesting content into the other product, etc., so we can start getting benefits as soon as the beginning. But the main focus will be to harmonize the technology platform. Building a very, very solid direct-to-consumer combined product and platform is going to take some time.
Wiedenfels warned that it would be “several months” before Warner Bros. Discovery cannot combine its streaming services. Still, it’s still great that the company is moving forward with separate plans for the different services. CNNMore debuted on the Roku Channel Store as part of the CNN app this week as well. Warner Bros. Discovery owns both streaming services, but it’s unclear when or if they will merge with HBO Max.