The Disney+/HBO Max bundle is a game changer for the streaming wars

In a stunning move, Disney+ and Warner Bros are creating a bundle to bring Max to Disney+/Hulu! Why is this unprecedented move happening?
Photograph by Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO
Photograph by Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO /

Get ready for a huge change to Disney+ as Disney is shockingly teaming up with Warner Bros for a brand-new Max bundle!

The streaming wars have become a key part of the TV landscape in the last few years. Every studio wants a piece of Netflix's success, and it's shaken up everything from TV viewing to movies moving to streaming just a couple of months after their theatrical runs.

However, it does seem some studios may have overestimated the appeal streaming has for customers. Disney had hoped Disney+ would be a monster success, but it's taken nearly five years for it to turn a profit. That includes cost-cutting moves like merging it with Hulu and dumping several Disney+ original shows to save money. 

Now, in a clear sign of "war makes unlikely bedfellows," Disney and Warner Bros, usually major rivals, are teaming up for a brand new bundle that will put Disney+ and Hulu with Max. Thus, not only can you get Disney and Hulu material but also Max, which includes HGTV, Food Network, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Discovery Channel, TLC, ID and more. 

Per the official press release, there's no specific date for the new bundle launch or pricing, although there will be the option to purchase on any of the three streaming platforms and watch either ad-free or ad-supported. This isn't much different than how Hulu customers can add on Disney+ for a couple more dollars or vice versa.

Joe Earley, President of Direct to Consumer Disney Entertainment, shared Disney's side of the deal. 

"On the heels of the very successful launch of Hulu on Disney+, this new bundle with Max will offer subscribers even more choice and value. This incredible new partnership puts subscribers first, giving them access to blockbuster films, originals, and three massive libraries featuring the very best brands and entertainment in streaming today."

Earley's counterpart, JB Perrette CEO and President Global Streaming and Games, Warner Bros Discovery, shared his own views. 

"This new offering delivers for consumers the greatest collection of entertainment for the best value in streaming, and will help drive incremental subscribers and much stronger retention. Offering this unprecedented entertainment value for fans across all the complimentary genres these three services offer, presents a powerful new roadmap for the future of the industry."

To many, seeing Disney and Warner Bros working together in any way is surprising but it's needed.

Why are Disney and Warner Bros teaming up?

Consolidating services like this is a unique move as it seems to harken back to the old days of cable TV. While exact pricing isn't certain yet, given the current prices for the Disney+/Hulu and Max, it's possible a monthly ad-free bundle for all three will run customers at least $30 a month. 

What's notable is how different the streamers are. Disney, of course, is known for family fare as well as the various Star Wars and Marvel shows. Max carries HBO content through its adult-themed dramas, documentaries, and award-winning original series. Putting them together makes for a wider range of programming at a cheaper cost than each separate. 

It's really a move by both companies who figure it's much better working together to gain a wider range of customers than fight it out and let rivals like Amazon and Paramount whittle away at them. Bob Iger had just said it was likely Disney would license more stuff to places like Netflix so clearly was open to this deal. 

Perrette added to Variety how consolidating like this can be good for all parties.

"Disney obviously is incomparable and world-leader in kids and family. We are world leaders in premium drama, scripted drama, comedy nonfiction verticals, and we can get back to investing in prioritizing our visions and our key content they can do theirs. And synthetically, these bundles allow us to do that while still providing the consumer with a very attractive price for the combination of products such that they feel like they don't need to anymore do all the switching in and out of services month to month but rather pay and get an advantage of one price."

The fact this is optional is also a draw as customers won't feel the need to buy the entire bundle but if they feel like adding one service or another, it's easier to do. At the end of the day, folks would prefer just a few dollars more for an add-on than buying a service subscription on its own. 

It's a huge deal to be sure and still more details to come on when the bundle launches this summer. But the fact you can soon watch Disney and HBO material on the same package is the biggest move yet in the streaming wars that have shifted TV.