Sports continue their journey towards streaming.
Warner Bros. Discovery announced Tuesday that it will begin adding live sporting events from the company’s cable network to its Max streaming service in October. The streaming service will now include access to Major League Baseball playoff games as well as National Basketball Association and National Hockey League regular season games.
For several months, sporting events will be free to all Max customers. But in late February — just as college basketball’s March Madness is about to begin, and several weeks before the professional basketball and hockey playoffs begin — access to the games will cost $10 a month, on top of the standard Max subscription price. The company said. Currently, Max without ads costs $16 per month, and the ad-supported plan costs $10 per month.
Media companies are racing to figure out how to incorporate live sporting events with their popular but still cash-strapped streaming services. Rights to sporting events are often expensive, and are one of the ultimate main drivers of broadcast and cable channels. (Warner Bros. Discovery offers live sports on its Turner cable network.)
Recently, Charter Communications customers temporarily lost access to Disney’s cable networks, including ESPN. highly publicized controversy, Charter executives argued that Disney sought too much additional money for its cable networks, even though it was prioritizing its streaming business.
Disney has indicated that ESPN will, at some point, be available to subscribers via streaming without a cable subscription. The dispute with the charter was resolved this month,
Other media companies are offering access to major sporting events on their streaming services at no additional charge. Paramount offers football games through its streaming service, Paramount+. Peacock will stream a Wild Card NFL playoff game early next year It will not be available on cable or broadcast networks. Amazon similarly has the rights to Thursday Night Football from Prime Video at no extra charge.
It’s an approach with which Warner Bros. Discovery “fundamentally disagrees,” said JB Perrette, president of the company’s streaming division.
“Our goal to sell it as an incremental tier is the belief that it’s very valuable – it’s something that should have a separate fee,” he said in an interview.
“We believe we need to establish models that are viable over the long term,” he said.
Sports rights are expected to become more expensive, and the rights to NBA games – including those now controlled by Warner Bros. Discovery – will be acquired over the next two years. Louis Silberwasser, president of the company’s sports division, said the leap to streaming will be attractive to both professional leagues and advertisers.
“For our customers, for our advertisers and for the leagues as well, they want access,” he said. “They want to be able to reach the younger consumer.”
The Sports tier will be branded as the Bleacher Report Sports add-on (Bleacher Report, a sports website, is owned by the company). It will start on October 5.
The change is part of a broader effort to attract new customers to live sports and news. Max currently has 95.8 million subscribers, which is less than Netflix and Disney+.
Max will also add so called cnn max The channel next week will include at least three major shows – hosted by Jake Tapper, Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper – live from the cable news network.