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September 20, 2023

Max to begin streaming live sports in October

Warner Bros. Discovery's add-on will be free for current subscribers until March. It will then cost an additional $9.99 a month

Live sports will be added to Warner Bros. Discovery's Max streaming platform beginning in October, the company announced on Tuesday.

The package is branded as the Bleacher Report Sports Add-On, as Warner Bros. Discovery owns the sports website Bleacher Report. It will debut on Thursday, Oct. 5 with coverage of MLB's divisional playoff games. Events from the NBA, NHL, NCAA basketball, men's and women's U.S. soccer and professional golf also will be available to stream.

All events that air on networks owned by Warner Bros. Discovery, like TNT and TBS, also will stream on Max. Current subscribers can access the sports add-on at no additional cost until March; after that, the package will cost an additional $9.99 per month. 

"Our unparalleled offering of leading sports, combined with the power of the Bleacher Report brand and content, including the unique way B/R engages with young sports fans, all delivered through the new Max platform, will enable us to broaden our audience and delight new fans," said Luis Silberwasser, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery Sports. 

Max's new sports package comes as other streaming services have made deals with leagues and cable companies to stream certain sporting events. 

In 2021, Amazon signed an 11-year, $11 billion deal with the NFL to exclusively air the league's Thursday night regular season games. It also has a deal with England's Premier League to stream soccer matches, which was signed in 2018 and will continue through 2025. 

Last year, Apple TV+ partnered with the MLB to air Friday night games. The service also has a 10-year partnership with the MLS and offers MLS Season Pass to its subscribers for $12.99 per month.

Hulu, YouTube TV and Paramount+ all stream live television and sports. Some of these companies offer sports to their subscribers for no additional charge, which is not part of Max's approach.

"Our peers are essentially giving away sports for free. That is not the right model," JB Perrette, chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery, told the Wall Street Journal

The move to add live sports programming to Max coincides with a national writer's strike, which has canceled or postponed movies and television shows. Since May 2, the Writer's Guild of America has paused work to fight a lack of residual payments from streaming companies, among other complaints.

With shows and movies in flux and no end date in sight for the strike, streaming companies are searching for ways to keep subscribers and sell their products to new customers, including adding live sports to their packages.