Warner Bros. Discovery WBD logo The new Warner Bros. Discovery sign at Discovery HQ photographed in Knoxville, Tenn. on Thursday, July 7, 2022. Sksks 0731

The rollout of live sports on Warner Bros. Discovery’s direct-to-consumer streaming services has been deliberate domestically, frustrating many fans.

Since the launch of HBO Max (before its rebranding as Max), U.S. Soccer matches are the only live sports content available on the streaming service with any regularity. The federation struck an eight-year deal with WarnerMedia (before the completion of the company’s merger with Discovery) for home FIFA World Cup qualifiers, home friendlies, and other matches for the men’s and women’s teams in March of 2022. Those matches all air on Max, with simulcasts of some airing on linear networks TBS and TNT.

WBD Sports’ other main assets haven’t jumped to a direct-to-consumer streaming service. March Madness, MLB, NBA, and NHL games can’t be watched on Max and are only available on other apps requiring an authenticated login (March Madness Live, TBS, TNT apps).

However, the day might come when those sports are available on Max or another DTC service. Speaking on WBD’s earnings call on Thursday, CEO David Zaslav talked about sports on a subscription platform. Zaslav said that WBD owned “significant digital rights” domestically that had yet to be rolled out and that the company’s efforts in Europe and Latin America could be used as a guidepost in the United States.

We’re also a global leader in sports, including great sports rights from many of the top leagues in the U.S. that, in many cases, run through 2028 and beyond. We have the best digital and social sports platform for younger fans in Bleacher Report and we have significant digital rights in the U.S. that we’re not currently deploying but plan to in the future and that has a real chance to create meaningful strategic value.

We’ve had some good success in Europe and Latin America with layering sports into streaming with various business models. And this experience is informing our view on how to best deploy these sports rights here in the U.S. Our recent venture with BT in the U.K. is a great example, having merged BT Sport with Eurosport U.K. What is now called TNT Sports is available on both linear and streaming and bundled with discovery+, our current streaming entertainment product in that market. We believe there’s significant opportunity in the streaming space for sports and we look forward to leaning into this incremental growth avenue.

Later in the call, Zaslav again pointed to the company’s efforts across the pond, noting that WBD has put live sports on the platform and used an added tier for live sports.

CEO and President of Global Streaming and Games Jean-Briac Perrette also chimed in and indicated that an incremental model would be how WBD would go regarding live sports in the US.

Throughout the call, Zaslav and Perrette mentioned that a plan would be finalized and revealed in time.

Overall, WBD rolling out some semblance of a plan for live sports on its DTC offerings is a positive step. Nuggets have surfaced over the years about more live sports eventually streaming on a WBD DTC service, from the announcement about the company’s NHL deal including “live streaming and simulcast rights for HBO Max,” and VP of emerging media and innovation Peter Scott said, “it might be a destination down the road to put NBA games on HBO Max” in March of 2022. Scott left the company earlier this year and is now the Chief Strategy Officer at Play Anywhere, Inc.

With the MLB Postseason starting in early October, the NHL regular season beginning in mid-October, and the NBA regular season following later in the month, we’ll see if Warner Bros. Discovery can unveil a plan in the next two months.

[Transcript via Seeking Alpha]

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.