For some time now, we have known that Warner Bros. Discovery has been planning a free streaming service. So what should we expect from it? What will it offer? Last week during Warner Bros. Discovery’s 1st quarter 2023 earnings call, we got a few but not many insights into the plans for the service. So let us take a look at what we know about this new service and what was said last week.
What will the WBTV service have to offer?
Warner Bros. Discovery has a vast back catalog of content from Discovery, Scripps, and Warner Bros. programs to build a service on. Now don’t look for major hits like Friends being offered free but do look for Warner Bros. Discovery to follow Pluto TV’s model by offering a collection of new and older content to help attract subscribers to HBO Max, which is being renamed to just Max.
Look for the service to rely heavily on older content with a mix of newer shows. The main goal will likely be like Pluto TV as a way to generate revenue and promote Warner Bros. Discovey’s paid services like Max.
If Warner Bros. Discovery’s recent deals with The Roku Channel and Tubi are any examples, you will find a collection of old HBO programming available in the WBTV app.
So why air new shows on a free streaming service? Pluto TV often airs Paramount+ programming to help attract new subscribers to the service before a new season is released. WBTV will likely have some new programming from Max to try and attract new subscribers.
When Will WBTV Launch?
Warner Bros. Discovery has been very tight-lipped on its plans for WBTV. The recent deals with Tubi and The Roku Channel suggest that they don’t plan to release the service anytime soon.
During the Warner Bros. Discovery’s earnings call, CEO and president for global streaming and games JB Perrette, addressed their plans to launch WBTV as a free streaming service.
“We will continue to look to see if we can increase that volume for a second-, third, fourth monetization window for certain content,” Mr. Perrette said. “And we will continue to explore the owned-and-operated strategy. And at some point in time longer term we do see the opportunity for this WBTV brand and platform to exist in an owned-and-operated environment.”
“We want to make sure that we come to market at the right time when the demand is sufficient,” Mr. Perrette said during the earnings call. “But we will continue to execute this hybrid strategy of syndicated channels initially, and then over time, at the right time, launch our own service.”
Sadly, for now, that is all we know about when WBTV will launch. Warner Bros. Discovery is very committed to launching a free service. For now, though, they seem happy to partner with services like Tubi and The Roku Channel in the short term as they look at WBTV as a long-term project.
Why not launch WBTV today?
One of the biggest issues hitting streaming services, TV channels, and even websites is low ad rates right now. For a combination of reasons, ad rates have recently dropped. It is very possible that Warner Bros. Discovery is waiting for ad rates to come back to a more normal number before launching its free TV service.
These low ad rates have forced multiple companies that rely on ad revenue to cut staff and cut costs. Launching an ad-supported streaming service in this market may not be the best timing.
Warner Bros. Discovery is also busy getting ready to relaunch HBO Max as just Max. It seems at this time that they may also be taking up much of their internal efforts and may be delaying the launch of WBTV.