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Warner Bros. Discovery considers naming joint streaming platform ‘Max’

Yahoo Finance entertainment reporter Allie Canal details Warner Bros. Discovery coming up with a potential name for its new joint streaming platform that combines HBO Max and Discovery+, along with recent comments made by NBCU CEO Jeff Shell about Disney, Hulu, and Peacock.

Video Transcript

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DAVE BRIGGS: All right, as any parent knows well, naming your baby ain't always easy. But Warner Brothers Discovery execs reportedly do like the name Max. According to a CNBC report, that's what they'll name the combined streaming service for HBO Max and Discovery+. Allie Canal is here with more. What do you think about Max?

ALEXANDRA CANAL: Max. Now, I did reach out to Warner Brothers Discovery for a comment. They said they are still deciding. So this is not official. But Max is in the running. I think it suggests to me that they're still tied to the HBO branding, right? HBO Max, Max, not too different there. It also suggests that they could potentially be leaning in on that philosophy of more content, different types of content is always better. I saw a tweet from Rich Greenfield from LightShed Partners. He said that perhaps the tagline could be more "content to the Max" or something like that. I don't know. I don't think we're going to really get a firm answer on this until the fourth quarter earnings.

DAVE BRIGGS: But isn't HBO the value, the name, the brand name we all know?

SEANA SMITH: They've just had so many name changes, though. HBO Go, HBO Now, right, HBO Max.

DAVE BRIGGS: But we've grown up with HBO. We still--

ALEXANDRA CANAL: I don't even know why you need to change it, necessarily. I just-- I'm happy it's not Warner Brothers Discovery+ because I feel like everyone just goes, Disney+, plus here, plus there.

DAVE BRIGGS: Right.

ALEXANDRA CANAL: But we'll see. There definitely is a lot of intention that, I think, goes behind this decision. There's a lot of cooks in the kitchen probably giving their perspective.

DAVE BRIGGS: A lot of brand equity there with HBO.

ALEXANDRA CANAL: Yeah, you're right.

DAVE BRIGGS: I'm just surprised at that.

SEANA SMITH: Yeah, yeah. It's going to be interesting to see. Well, I mean, the streaming wars obviously heating up. There's another streamer in the news today. NBC Universal CEO Jeff Shell was making some comments about the Peacock service passing 18 million subscribers.

ALEXANDRA CANAL: Yeah.

SEANA SMITH: Comparing that, though, with some of its competitors, it doesn't really stand out.

ALEXANDRA CANAL: Doesn't stand out. But if you look at Peacock as a whole, they had 15 million subscribers in September. So to reach 18 million to date, that's a pretty big jump. And Jeff Shell, he was very bullish on Peacock, very confident during this UBS Investor conference. He said that this is due to a lot of their program decisions such as sports. He said, really, every sports deal that NBCU has made has involved Peacock in some capacity. He also credited the film studio, that dripoff that we've seen from Hulu.

But with Hulu, that was an interesting part of this conversation as well because the future of Hulu largely hangs in the balance. Disney controls 2/3 of that company. Comcast controls 33%. And Jeff Shell said that by the time this deadline rolls around for Disney to make a decision on this by 2024, he expects Disney to give them, quote, "a big check." So we'll see if they go through with this.

There's been a lot of talk on Wall Street when it comes to what Disney should do with Hulu. Should they sell it? Should they keep it? But whatever it is, it's going to value the company at a very large amount of money. For example, that agreement was originally reached in May 2019, and it set Disney's guaranteed minimum equity value for Hulu at $27.5 billion. So the better Hulu does, the more money Disney is going to have to cough up.