HBO Max And Discovery+ To Merge In 2023; DC To Get A New Focus At Warner Bros. Discovery

by Erik Amaya

Yup, its time for the Crisis on Infinite Earths graphic again.

During its second quarter earnings call, the newly-minted Warner Bros. Discovery revealed its intention to merge its two streaming platforms, HBO Max and Discovery+, into a single offering based on the latter’s interface and under-the-hood technology in the summer of 2023. According to WBD, the two services have a combined reach of just over 90 million subscribers. Other details about the merged service — like its name and pricing structures — are unavailable, but an ad-supported tier is expected.

The news comes on the heels of the company completely shelving the nearly complete Batgirl film, an also nearly complete Scoob! sequel, and removing several “low performing” programs from HBO Max. The explanation: a tax incentive available to the new ownership that will, somehow, be more profitable than completing the films or allowing the extant series to remain on the platform. That accounting trick, said to be available to WBD only though the middle of the month, has plenty of industry people questioning the new company’s vision or commitment to … well, anything.

For those of us in the geekier side of the equation, favorite brands seem to be in fairly safe positions with WBD marking the DC trinity of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman — and Game of Thrones overall — as key fixtures in their future vision. What this will actually look like is anyone’s guess as, currently, a lot of the DC projects in development do not meet the streamlined vision of WBD going forward. But if there is one ray of hope: DC is listed among the company’s film studio pillars alongside Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Pictures, Warner Animation Group, and Warner Bros. Television. And during the call, company leaders said “DC is at the top of the list” with a “ten-year plan” in place to produce quality pictures based on the DC Comics characters in a model similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Of course, we’ve heard variations of this before.

Meanwhile, the nature of all these revelations — and the complete cancellation of Batgirl — still feels like the sort of Crisis-level chaos Warner experienced when AT&T took over and allowed competing visions of the DC characters and a streaming offering to propagate. And like the actual Crisis on Infinite Earths, some new form of the company will emerge in the end. But it will also leave a lot of beloved versions of popular characters on the scrap heap of a creative multiverse. We fully expect all of the current DC series on HBO Max to be cancelled as most of HBO Max’s budget evaporates in favor of the new Discovery-focused streaming platform. We also expect more niche DC characters to crawl back into obscurity as WBD focuses on the trinity.

Is the sense of doom warranted? Crisis was a 12-issue maxiseries and we’re just entering issue 2 of this latest Warner Bros. event event storyline.

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