Max to launch live-sports tier in October, featuring MLB, NBA, NHL games

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Warner Bros. Discovery’s streaming service Max will launch a live-sports tier in October, just in time for baseball’s postseason.

Max’s “Bleacher Report Sports” tier will debut Oct. 5, the company announced Tuesday, offering more than 300 simulcast games each year from Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, NCAA March Madness, U.S. national-team soccer and more.

In addition to regular-season games, its lineup will include the MLB playoffs, which start Oct. 7; the NBA All-Star Game and playoffs; the NHL Winter Classic and Stanley Cup playoffs; and Final Four men’s basketball.

The add-on tier will be free for all Max subscribers through Feb. 29, when its $9.99-a-month price will kick in. The streamed games will not be exclusive, and will also air live on Warner’s cable networks such as TBS and TNT. The sports tier will also include live studio shows, like “Inside the NBA,” as well as select live international sports, such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and on-demand content.

“We want to be everywhere sports fans are, and 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,” Luis Silberwasser, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery Sports, said in a statement.

Live sports are increasingly being seen as a key to growing — and retaining — streaming subscribers. Such a shift would be a seismic move to the TV landscape, where live sports are a roughly $19 billion-a-year industry, and largely prop up a number of broadcast and cable TV networks.

The former HBO Max had shunned live sports for years despite being under the same corporate umbrella as Turner Sports, but started livestreaming the U.S. men’s and women’s national soccer teams earlier this year.

Adding live sports would put Max on a more equal footing with streaming rivals that carry live sports, such as Comcast’s 

 Peacock, Paramount+ 

 Prime Video and Apple TV+ 
 Meanwhile, Disney 

 is working on spinning off ESPN as a separate, direct-to-consumer service, and Netflix 

 is taking baby steps into live sports, though co-CEO Ted Sarandos said in July he’s satisfied with the company’s “sports-adjacent programming,” which include a number of popular sports docuseries.

WBD is hoping the addition of live sports will appeal to cord-cutters, and provide a much-needed revenue jolt. Earlier this month, the entertainment giant said it could suffer a $300 million to $500 million hit this year due to the ongoing Hollywood strikes, which have shuttered production of TV shows and movies.

Last month, Max announced a streaming version of CNN will be added to Max starting Sept. 27.

WBD shares

are up 23% year to date, but have slipped 7% over the past month, compared to the S&P 500’s
16% gain this year, and 1% gain over the past month.


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