Warner Bros. Discovery to roll out Max in Europe from next spring

Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) is rolling its Max service out in Europe in the spring of 2024, with countries under its current HBO Max footprint the first to receive the service.


Gerhard Zeiler

The news, which was revealed during a keynote from WBD international chief Gerhard Zeiler here at MIPCOM, will see more than 20 countries across the region receiving the rebooted streamer, including those in the Nordics, CEE, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands.

A “second wave” is planned for later next year, which will include France and Belgium, although details of a specific launch date were not revealed.

The move comes 15 months since WBD halted the roll-out of forerunner HBO Max in France, with the streamer subsequently launching in the US earlier this year and set for a Latin America roll-out in early 2024.

Zeiler said the move would enable the company to extend its reach but admitted that while streaming is “the future of our business”, the role of linear remained important and would not be “abandoned”.

Leah Hooper Rosa, WBD’s SVP & head of streaming for EMEA, joined Zeiler on stage and, in confirming the Max roll-out, said her focus is on “increasing watch time”, delivering profitability and being a “great partner” for others to bundle services.

She added that the service will stream live sport in Europe, including WBD’s Eurosport coverage and a rights portfolio that includes Grand Slam tennis, cycling’s Grand Tours and the Olympic Games in Paris 2024.

Rosa said that Max will also offer live simulcasts of local entertainment networks in some countries, but specifics were not confirmed.

Synergy savings & targets

Zeiler used his keynote to outline how the company, which revealed it had lost 1.8 million streaming subscribers in August, is looking to balance third-party sales with linear and OTT customers, adding that WBD was looking for as much reach as possible.

He admitted that the “great era of overdelivering content” via “underpiced services” was over, with the exec highlighting “a much more rational attitude to streaming” across the sector.

Zeiler also updated the market on “synergy” savings, which had initially been touted at $3bn before being increased earlier this year. The former RTL CEO said savings are now “on their way to $5bn – and who knows where we’ll end up.”

WBD has already made substantial cuts to its business, with Zeiler’s own team being largely restructured over recent weeks following the exit of EMeA chief Priya Dogra

Dogra, who revealed her departure in August, was joined by France, Benelux & Africa chief Pierre Branco on Tuesday, while distribution chief Robert Blair and Germany boss Hannes Heyelmann are also exiting. A new structure was laid out last week.

Zeiler also talked up linear, describing the business and streaming as “two sides of the same coin” and said decisions about “programming investments, marketing, windowing and promotion” are made with both “linear and streaming [teams] together.”

“Streaming is the future of our business, no doubt, but there is no reason to abandon linear yet – and the consumer doesn’t want us to do that either.”

Zeiler added that creating a single culture across WBD – something he said was missing during the Time Warner days – had been a key target, while the integration of the Warner Media and Discovery business had been focused on being as “fast and… as efficient as possible.”


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