Warner Bros. Discovery to add sports offerings to streaming platform
The GIST: Life is but a dream for Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD). On Friday, CEO David Zaslav said the company is “actively working” on adding sports and news offerings after its U.S. streaming business turned a profit for the first time ever in Q1.
The context: WBD is combining the HBO Max and Discovery+ streaming services into rebranded platform Max, launching on May 23rd in the States. There’s no word yet on when the company’s sports slate will be available to stream though, which includes domestic rights to the NBA, NHL, MLB, USWNT, and USMNT matches, as well as a handful of niche sporting events.
The details: The company’s two streamers posted over $50M in profit during Q1 — a $704M improvement YoY. WBD added 1.6M new streaming subscribers during the first quarter, bringing its total audience to 97.6M. Plus, WBD expects its direct-to-consumer business to be profitable by EOY, a year ahead of schedule.
- It wasn’t all good news for WBD, though. Overall, it saw a $1.1B net loss during Q1, and its streaming business didn’t turn a profit globally. A mixed bag.
Zooming out: Streamers are poised to unseat TV as the destination for sports, and WBD’s choice to offer them alongside entertainment and news may provide a profitability blueprint that’s often elusive for digital platforms. Zaslav also believes a mix of live events will reduce subscriber churn rates by “keep[ing] consumers coming back for more and staying longer.”
- On one hand, having something for everyone provides viewers with access to games, potentially generating new fans. On the other, entertainment streamers’ desire to air sports disadvantages avid fans who have to pick and choose between costly platforms. Decisions, decisions.