2023 is seeing a major shift in WBD's strategy for streaming, which it calls "a year of relaunching and building," with the company having canceled a mass number of series on HBO Max.
This is all the while the company is refocusing what shows it puts out, with DC's recent slate announcing four new shows coming to streaming as well as confirming the possibility of series on other platforms like Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix. The latter recently announced, then seemed to quickly revoke, plans for anti-password sharing measures, bringing to sharp focus the modern media consumer's reliance on easy-to-access streaming.
Warner Bros. Launching Free Streaming Service
According to Bloomberg, Warner Bros. Discovery is creating its own free, advertising-supported streaming option called WBTV.
Many Warner Bros. Discovery hits like The Big Bang Theory, Friends, and The West Wing (the latter of the two has been on Netflix for a fair amount of time before jumping ship) already have a home on the WBD-owned HBO Max.
Bloomberg warns to not "expect Warner Bros. to let its biggest hits leave HBO Max," as much of its streaming is thanks to "a small number of library titles (like Friends)."
But, as Warner Bros. Discovery explores its own version of the "free, advertising-supported streaming service," like what is offered by Tubi or IMDbTV for instance, many less-popular shows will likely make the change over to WBTV for free streaming.
Both Netflix and Disney+ recently introduced cheaper ad-supported tiers to their services, so this could be in direct response to those moves as well.
What Shows Will Leave HBO Max?
Given that this development is still seemingly in the preliminary stages, it is hard to tell exactly which shows and movies will become free to watch on this new WBTV service and which will remind behind the HBO Max paywall.
For example, Warner Bros. Discovery has several creative units, notably including DC. Currently, most DC television shows and movies are available on HBO Max.
Will that change with the new service? Same with [adult swim] and Studio Ghibli — will they be jumping ship as well? Kids content and animated series might have a good chance of leaving the service, as this may be a convenient alternative for parents wanting to entertain their children.
Until more information is revealed, television viewers can at least get excited about the prospects of further free viewing in the future.