Commentary

Max: All In For Live Sports, News: Waiting For The Next 'Winning Time'?

To refresh your deep media knowledge, live TV anything -- news and sports -- seems to be the go-to strategy for all things TV and streaming, even if you are just an occasional viewer. Think of it as a streaming placeholder -- a scheduling linchpin.

Warner Bros. Discovery's Max, which may be underperforming in some analysts' eyes, has decided to leap into the streaming content puzzle -- one that will not only keep viewers around, but where for live content, marketers will pay premium prices.

This comes with its recent effort to add more live sports as well as live news content, the latter in the form of CNN Max -- which WBD just formally added to Max -- as a form of an “open beta” effort.

CNN Max will have lots of familiar linear TV CNN cable network shows, as well as other “exclusive” content.

In addition, WBD must figure the move will also help CNN jumpstart its still lackluster viewership -- getting somewhat close to Fox News Channel and MSNBC.

For those legacy TV distributors (cable, satellite, telco, virtual) that carry linear TV news networks, who are supposed to have exclusivity in markets, CNN Max is walking a narrow line:  

This CNN news feed will be -- in theory -- different than on the cable TV networks especially when it comes to “CNN Newsroom” programming -- a brand name of daytime programming on the network. 

The effort is that live sports and news will keep in TV subscribers/viewers locked in to the broad based entertainment content premium platform, keeping monthly churn to a minimum.

Subscribers would more likely hang around especially in those periods where typically streaming services suffer-- where restless streamers are waiting for their popular favorite shows to start up a new season.

Recently, Max pulled the “Winning Time”, the series focusing on the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers, after two critically acclaimed seasons.  

We don’t know the particulars about why that decision was made. Costly production? Low viewership?  Assume a bit of both. 

All this will also help publicity and advertising-wise. WBD -- as well as the other competing streamers -- wants to avoid its streaming platform just being the home of just one big popular show. For example,  linear pay TV network, HBO, had this for years -- in part -- when it benefited from the big success of “Game of Thrones”.

Live TV for viewing is all about immediacy, engagement, and, for marketers, higher priced ad inventory to get all that. Just like with linear TV, a streamer can market other shows in and around that content.

Is this still the right play?

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