Warner Bros. Discovery has implemented the first price hike for Discovery+ since the streaming service launched in the U.S. in January 2021.
Starting today, the ad-free tier in the U.S. will rise to $8.99 a month from $6.99. The tier with advertising is holding steady at $4.99. In Canada, the ad-free rate is going to $8.99 Canadian from $6.99, and the ad tier is increasing to $5.99 from $4.99. Existing subscribers will see the increase on their next billing cycle on or after November 2.
Although WBD opted to continue offering Discovery+ as a stand-alone service, its main emphasis has been on promoting the rebranded and expanded Max flagship, which added a raft of Discovery+ programming last May. The ad-free version of Max is $15.99 a month in the U.S., while an ad-supported subscription costs $9.99. After the April 2022 closing of the $43 billion WarnerMedia-Discovery merger, the combined company’s management team talked frequently about streamlining HBO Max and Discovery+ into a single service. They wound up preserving the option to subscribe only to Discovery+ when research showed a resistance to the higher price point of HBO Max (now Max).
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In its most recent quarterly results, WBD said it lost 1.8 million subscribers due in large part to the Max rebrand, settling at 95.8 million for all services. Since the merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery closed in April 2022, the combined company has reported only a blended subscriber number. The most recent breakout of subscriber numbers had Discovery+ at 24 million in the first quarter of 2022.
Price hikes in streaming have been happening with increasing frequency as new players confront difficult economic forces. Generally speaking, ad-free plans are seeing the most significant upticks in price as cheaper ad-supported tiers become more of a strategic focus. The ability of longtime sector leader Netflix to continue to flex its pricing power has encouraged rivals to undertake similar moves. The Wall Street Journal earlier today reported that Netflix is eyeing another price increase once the SAG-AFTRA strike is resolved, though the report didn’t indicate the amount of the hike or the likely timing. Netflix’s most popular ad-free plan is $15.49 a month in the U.S.
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