Max To Offer Live Sports Free, For Limited Time: Report

Warner Bros. Discovery plans to offer live sports on Max at no additional cost to subscribers for a limited time later this year, then start charging for the content next year.

The plan is said to call for launching the free content in time for the Major League Baseball playoffs this fall, and switching to paid status next year -- likely in February or March, in time for major events such as March Madness and the NBA and NHL playoffs. 

WBD has not commented on the report, which originated with Bloomberg News sources.

But such a strategy would be far from surprising.

WBD CEO David Zaslav has already moved to add live news to Max via a CNN hub on the Max streamer, and has also indicated his intention to bring live sports to the platform -- most recently yesterday, during a Goldman Sachs investor conference.



Zaslav has said that WBD owns the digital/streaming rights as part of all its sports contracts, including the MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA Tournament, and U.S. soccer. Yesterday, he stressed that the MLB rights hold through 2028, the NBA rights through 2025, and the March Madness and NHL rights well into the 2030s. 

He also reiterated his belief that bundling content, even from rival streamers, is the key to the future for the streaming business in general and Max in particular -- revealing that he wants to add content to Max that goes beyond its current content from HBO, Discovery and Warner Bros. Pictures.

There is no indication that WBD, which traditionally airs the sports to which it has rights on the TNT and TBS cable channels, plans to make any of that content exclusive to Max.

While live sports will no doubt be used as a lure to build subscribers for Max, it remains unclear whether it would be available as an add-on to Max with ads or premium, no-ads Max, or be made part of the premium subscription, or how such an offering might be priced.

With Amazon and Apple already heavily invested in expanding live sports on their streaming platforms, and Disney's ESPN reportedly working to launch a streaming service, WBD needs to move expeditiously to compete in this arena.

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