By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman
Warner Bros. Discovery yesterday reiterated that the company is planning to add live sports to the Max streaming service but suggested that subscribers would have to pay extra to watch them. In an earnings call with analysts following the release of the company’s second quarter report, WBD CEO David Zaslav noted the company owns the digital rights to sports such as the NBA and MLB on WBD-owned networks such as TNT and TBS. He said WBD has been testing adding live sports to the streaming service and that the initial results have been successful. (Max has already provided some live soccer matches this year.)
“We still have a lot of work to do. We’re early on. But news and sports are important, they’re differentiators, they’re compelling and they make these platforms come alive. And that’s — if you’re on an SVOD platform and something that’s going on in the world and you could see it, it has that platform — makes that platform really alive. So you will hear from us on that soon,” Zaslav said.
The prospect of watching the NBA and MLB on Max without having to get a cable or satellite TV service will likely excite the cord-cutting audience. But Jean-Briac Perrette, WBD’s CEO and president of global streaming and games, suggested yesterday in the earnings call that subscribers would have to pay a separate fee for the sports programming. He noted that is what WBD is already doing in other countries.
“In sports, we have a mix of models today across. Largely in Europe, it is priced in an incrementally priced tier. In (Latin America), we have some sports bundle, a mix there as well. We have some local football or soccer in a separately priced tier. We have Champions League in Mexico and Brazil, priced within the entertainment offering. I think generally, our view is sports is such a premium offering with a very focused and passionate fan base. But generally, the model will require some way to find…incremental value to get out of it. And so exactly how that comes to market, we will have more to say later in the year. But generally, our view is that it needs to be monetized incrementally, let’s put it that way.”
Max now offers plans ranging from $9.99 a month with ads-included to $19.99 a month with no ads and 4K programming included.
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— Phillip Swann