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WBD Pursues ‘Different’ Strategy For Sports on Max

Warner Bros. Discovery’s new push to house its entire live sports portfolio on Max is designed to provide simplicity for consumers and linear distributors amid a period of increasing media complexity.

The Turner Sports parent has finalized its heavily anticipated plans to create a sports tier on its general-interest, direct-to-consumer streaming service, introducing the newly named Bleacher Report Sports Add-On tier beginning Oct. 5. 

Timed to begin with MLB playoffs, it will offer WBD’s full slate of live sports programming, also including NHL, NBA, college basketball, and U.S. Soccer, along with popular studio programs such as “Inside The NBA.” The service will be offered as an extended free preview for Max subscribers in the U.S. from its initial debut until Feb. 29, 2024, followed by a $9.99-per-month fee.

Live Sports Obstacles Growing

Already, consumers face more obstacles than ever to find live games, and finding games is causing unprecedented levels of friction and change between programmers and carriers. In WBD’s case, all of the company’s live sports will be on both linear channels and on Max, with separate economics attached to each. 

“We’re doing this slightly differently than our competitors. We’re not picking and choosing which sports stay on linear, and which go to Max. Everything that we have on linear, we’re going to have on Max,” Luis Silberwasser, WBD Sports chair and CEO, said to Front Office Sports. 

“And it’s because we fundamentally believe there are different consumers. We’re trying to advantage all of them, and not take anything away from linear by doing the Max product.”

Lasting nearly five months, the free trial for the Max sports tier differs markedly from much of the streaming landscape. WBD’s decision was driven by the company’s portfolio and plans to use March Madness to drive paid subscriptions.

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