By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman

Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) soon plans to add live sports, such as MLB, NBA and NHL games, to the Max streaming service for free for a limited time, writes Bloomberg News. The news service adds that Max will likely begin charging a fee for the live sporting events in February or March, which would come shortly before the March Madness basketball tournament. (WBD also owns the Turner networks, such as TBS and TNT, which have the rights to some March Madness games). 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. Bloomberg does not say how much the streamer might charge for live sports next year. The live sports fee would likely come in addition to the base Max cost although that’s not clear.

The Bloomberg story also does not say when Max will add live sports, but it’s likely to come around the start of the MLB playoffs in October. The NBA and NHL also start their 2023-24 seasons during the month. The Turner networks have the rights to select MLB playoff games as well as NBA and NHL games.

The prospect of watching the NBA, NHL and MLB on Max without having to get a cable or satellite TV service will likely excite the cord-cutting audience. But it’s inevitable that a pay requirement will be added. This is what Jean-Briac Perrette, WBD’s CEO and president of global streaming and games, told financial analysts last month:

“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.”

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— Phillip Swann