Warner Bros. Discovery is set to introduce its streaming service, Max, in France during the upcoming summer, marking a significant move in one of its prominent European markets. This launch in France and Belgium will follow the earlier expansion in 22 countries across various regions, including the Nordics, Iberia, Spain, the Netherlands, and Central Eastern Europe, which is scheduled for the spring. The broader European plan was outlined during a Mipcom Cannes keynote address by Gerhard Zeiler, the President of International at Warner Bros. Discovery, and Leah Hooper, the European Head of Streaming at Warner Bros. Discovery.
Hooper also revealed that Max will provide live sports coverage in Europe through Eurosport’s rights portfolio, encompassing events such as Grand Slam tennis, cycling’s Grand Tours, and extensive coverage of the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, set to begin in July, which will be accessible via live streaming and on-demand on Max. In some countries, the streaming platform will offer live simulcasts of local entertainment networks.
In France, Warner Bros. Discovery currently maintains an exclusive partnership with Amazon Prime Video that commenced in March and was intended to run until at least the end of 2024. Under this partnership in France, a service known as “Warner Pass” includes all HBO programs, along with 12 channels like Warner TV, Eurosport, Discovery Channel, Cartoon Network, and CNN, along with their corresponding on-demand services, available through Prime Video channels. While Warner Bros. Discovery is expected to launch Max as an independent service in France, it might retain its pact with Prime Video through the end of the year, similar to the U.S., where Max was introduced in May and remains accessible via Prime Video Channels for the next two years.
Warner Bros. Discovery has adapted its programming strategy in Europe, ceasing original content production for Max in regions like the Nordics, Central Europe, the Netherlands, and Turkey as part of cost-saving measures. However, France and Spain have been identified as strategic markets, leading to the commissioning of original content in these territories. In France, Warner Bros. Discovery has ordered its first original series, “The Mythomaniac of the Bataclan,” a four-part production inspired by the true story of a woman who deceived her way into a victims’ association and quickly became one of its central figures. Starring Laure Calamy, the series is anticipated to premiere on Max in the fall.
Gerhard Zeiler, during his Mipcom appearance, emphasized the three primary goals that Warner Bros. Discovery set when integrating the two companies. These goals included defining the mission and vision, executing a swift and efficient integration, and creating a new culture for the combined entities. He underscored the company’s mission as storytellers, catering to a diverse range of content formats, from feature films and scripted content to unscripted TV and sports.
Zeiler also highlighted the evolving landscape of streaming, noting that the era of underpriced content in streaming is drawing to a close, with a shift towards more rational pricing and profitability. He mentioned that HBO Max is currently one of the few streaming services outside of Netflix that has been “slightly profitable” in the first half of the year, while others continue to incur significant losses.