David Zaslav (via CNBC)

On Wednesday, Warner Bros Discovery unveiled their long-rumored plan to combine HBO Max and Discovery+ into one streaming service dubbed simply Max.

The official switch will happen in the United States on May 23, roughly three months after HBO Max debuted, with plans for a global rollout to be announced later this year.

While there was plenty of talk about how Succession and Games of Thrones will live alongside Dr. Pimple Popper, the discussion was pretty light in terms of news and sports content. However, according to CEO David Zaslav, that was intentional.

Sports and news are “vibrant parts” of the company that “will be key to our long-term streaming strategy,” Zaslav said in his opening remarks, per Deadline. “In a few months,” he added, “we’ll come back to you with details of our attack plan to use this important and differentiating live content to grow our streaming business even further.”

That’s a notable distinction given the headlines that Zaslav made back in November when he seemed to be strongly implying that WBD might not be too interested in negotiating to extend the NBA media rights it currently has through Turner.

“We don’t have to have the NBA,” Zaslav infamously said at the time.

Luis Silberwasser, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery Sports, seemed to pretty strongly push back on the notion that WBD wasn’t interested in being part of the next NBA media deal, saying in December that the relationship between sports and HBO Max (soon to be just Max) was something they were “now prioritizing.” When asked about Zaslav’s comment, he said “These kinds of things are never negotiated in public.”

Zaslav himself had the chance to clarify WBD’s stance about NBA media rights on Wednesday as well. During a sit-down interview with CNBC’s Julia Boorstin, the CEO said that “we are a leader in sports” and that “we have the NBA for another couple of years and hopefully for long-term.”

“We are building an attack strategy,” Zaslav said. “You will see news and sports deployed to drive our overall streaming domestically and around the world.”

That change in tone certainly didn’t go unnoticed.

The next round of NBA media rights certainly isn’t going to be cheap but it now sounds like WBD is the player that so many industry experts have assumed they’d be, especially given the goodwill they’ve built with TNT’s Inside the NBA studio show. There’s no shortage of interested parties but the idea of WBD giving up on the NBA at a critical juncture like this and letting a rival streamer like Amazon slide into their place just seems unwise. Whatever Zaslav had been hoping to accomplish with his initial comments on the NBA arrangement, all signs point to cool heads prevailing in the days ahead.

[Deadline, CNBC, Engadget]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.