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Warner Bros. Discovery may launch a free, ad-supported streaming service with HBO shows

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During an earnings call this week, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav announced that the company is thinking about launching its own free, ad-supported service. To be clear, this won’t happen any time soon. Warner Bros. Discovery first has to focus on launching the paid streaming service that will merge HBO Max and Discovery Plus. But after that service arrives, the company is hoping that a FAST service could be an “entry point” for consumers.

Warner Bros. Discovery might launch a free streaming service to compete with Tubi and Pluto

The content offered on the company’s free, ad-supported TV (FAST) service “would be totally different than the content that will be in our premium SVOD offering,” explained JB Perrette, Warner Bros. Discovery’s president and CEO of streaming and games.

Perrette pointed out that Warner Bros. Discovery has a library of over 100,000 episodes of TV across all of its networks. Some of that content might make more sense on a free streaming service than on a premium service, Perrette told analysts.

No matter when Warner Bros. Discovery opts to launch its own free streaming service, it will be relatively late to the game. Other major media companies have already staked their claim in the exploding FAST market. Fox has Tubi, Paramount has Pluto TV, Amazon has Freevee, Comcast has Xumo, and Roku has The Roku Channel.

Ace in the hole

Of course, Warner Bros. Discovery has something its competitors don’t: HBO. We obviously don’t expect to see any of HBO’s newest shows on a FAST service, but imagine how attractive that service would be if it featured even one season of Game of Thrones.

To this day, Game of Thrones is still the most pirated show on the planet. The series ended three years ago and yet pirates are still going out of their way to download the series illegally in record numbers. It’s clear that millions of people are willing to go above and beyond to steal the show, so why not give it to them for free with ads?

WBD isn’t making a dime off of pirated copies, but countless viewers would watch the show with ads if they didn’t have to sign up for a premium service to do so. Game of Thrones is also one of the company’s most important properties outside of DC, so we won’t hold our breath. But it would certainly catapult the FAST service to the top of the charts.

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.