Continuing a radical course change in regard to “channels”-style wholesale disaggregation of its services, the newly minted Warner Bros. Discovery has signed HBO Max on with Verizon’s recently launched +play service.
Introduced at Verizon’s investor day back in March, the wireless company bills +play as a free “centralized aggregation” platform for Verizon customers to subscribe to services ranging from Netflix to Disney Plus to (notably) Discovery Plus, all with a single sign-on and unified billing to Verizon. The +play platform, which is currently in trials and set to be widely available later this year, will also offer its users a centralized repository of lifestyle service options, such as the Peloton fitness app.
Coupled with Discovery Plus' announcement last week that it will be sold through Roku Channels, the announcement suggests a significant about-face for the newly minted Warner Bros. Discovery.
Two years ago, when it launched HBO Max, erstwhile parent company WarnerMedia went to war with Amazon to, among other things, extract the legacy HBO Now service from wholesale disaggregation platform Amazon Prime Video Channels.
WarnerMedia was insistent HBO Max users access the service directly through its dedicated app, where Amazon would not serve as a revenue-sharing intermediary between HBO and its customers for vital things ranging from billing to data collection to UX.
HBO Max wasn't available on the Amazon Fire TV connected TV device platform for its first seven months in the market. When HBO was finally extracted from Prime Video Channels last year, former HBO chief Andy Forssell told investors that the service took an immediate loss of 5 million subscribers.
But with the transition to yet another new management team, this one headed by Discovery CEO David Zaslav, the approach to such aggregation — or “disaggregation,” as some analysts have called it — has flipped.
“As one of the largest direct-to-consumer distributors in the United States, we have a track record of providing millions of our customers with great premium content from leading services, and our partnership with HBO Max will build on that trend while speaking directly to customer pain points, like managing multiple subscriptions all in one place,” said Erin McPherson, chief content officer for Verizon Consumer Group. ■
Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!
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