With the entertainment industry awaiting further clarity on Warner Bros. Discovery’s DTC strategy, two of its streaming services — HBO Max and Discovery+ — have unveiled plans to feature content from other WBD brands in the months ahead.
As perhaps a sign of more to come, select content from Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Network — which is already a fixture on Discovery+ — will be available on HBO Max as of September 30, via a “spotlight page” that will be set up on the streaming platform.
The slate of offerings from the lifestyle network will include Fixer Upper: Welcome Home, Magnolia Table with Joanna Gaines, The Lost Kitchen, Growing Floret, Family Dinner with Andrew Zimmern, Restoration Road with Clint Harp, Maine Cabin Masters and all five seasons of Fixer Upper, among other titles. As well, an upcoming addition to the successful Fixer Upper franchise, Fixer Upper: The Castle, will debut concurrently on Magnolia Network, HBO Max and Discovery+ on October 14.
According to WBD, more Magnolia Network content will appear on the HBO Max spotlight page “over the coming months,” while the full network slate will continue to be available on Discovery+.
The arrival of Magnolia Network content on HBO Max isn’t entirely unexpected. In April, it was revealed that the network, established as a joint venture between the Gaines duo and Discovery, would fall under the purview of HBO and HBO Max chief content officer Casey Bloys in the WBD framework, with president Allison Page reporting to him.
“Chip and Jo are without a doubt the most beloved duo in the home renovation and lifestyle space, with a legion of fans who have followed them from Fixer Upper to the launch of their very own network. We’re so excited to welcome them to the HBO Max family,” said Bloys in a statement.
“It’s always been our desire to highlight inspiring, authentic storytelling on Magnolia Network. We’re excited to be able to share these stories now with an even wider audience,” added Chip and Joanna Gaines (pictured).
This news comes as Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) prepares to release its second-quarter financial report later today (August 4), which will be accompanied by further updates on its direct-to-consumer strategy, according to the company. Speculation concerning the future of HBO Max has been running rampant over the past couple of months, with many theorizing that WBD’s Q2 report will include an announcement about the fusion of the prestige streamer with Discovery+ to form a single OTT service.
WBD topper David Zaslav added fuel to that fire in April when he stated, vis-a-vis DTC, “each and every decision will be made through the lens of analyzing asset value.” While that stance has led some industry pundits to predict significant changes to the company in the form of layoffs — especially as cost-cutting and elimination of perceived redundancies is a priority — the DTC fusion strategy is very much a live question, as both Zaslav and WBD CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels have said the process of transitioning the two services into one would take months to execute.
Meanwhile, in parallel with the HBO Max/Magnolia move, Discovery+ will be making select CNN content available via a dedicated CNN Originals hub, which will make its debut on August 19.
Featured titles on the hub will include Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy, The History of the Sitcom, United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell, The History of Comedy and This is Life with Lisa Ling, along with such HLN Original Series as How It Really Happened, Death Row Stories, The Hunt with John Walsh and Very Scary People. Select titles from the CNN Films library will also be available to stream exclusively on Discovery+.
Additional programming from CNN Films and CNN Original Series is also now available on HBO Max. The CNN Original Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?, originally slated for the short-lived CNN+ streaming service, will also debut on the platform this fall.
“True-crime, food, and travel programming are among the most-watched genres for Discovery+ viewers, so these titles from CNN will fit right in with our best-in-class collection of unscripted content,” said JB Perrette, president and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery Streaming, in a release. “We’re excited to offer our subscribers access to a comprehensive offering of CNN Original Series, available to stream with their existing subscription.”
As per Perrette’s statement, giving a prominent element of the Discovery+ content portfolio like the Magnolia slate shelf space on HBO Max, and bringing CNN original content to Discovery+, points to one potential strategy on the part of WBD: familiarizing users of each service with the content offerings of the other. It’s a move that was previously employed by Discovery Inc. shortly after its merger with Scripps Interactive Networks (which brought brands like Food Network and HGTV under the Discovery umbrella), with some titles airing on both HGTV and TLC, for example.
While more is sure to be revealed regarding the ultimate streaming strategy for WBD in today’s earnings report and subsequent investors call, these moves do seem to point towards an integration that will be months in the making.