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The Wall Street Journal: Warner Bros. Discovery to speed up merger of HBO Max, Discovery+

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Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. is speeding up the launch of a combined HBO Max/Discovery+ streaming service, a decision that comes as the company is facing growing pressure on its traditional media businesses from cord-cutting and a slowdown in advertising.

Speaking to analysts to discuss the company’s latest quarterly results, Chief Executive David Zaslav said: “While we have lots more work to do, and there are some difficult decisions still to be made, we have total conviction in the opportunity ahead,” adding that the as-yet unnamed service would become available in the U.S. in the spring, sooner than the previously announced summer release.

Since the closing of the merger between AT&T Inc.’s
T,
-1.41%

WarnerMedia and Discovery Inc. last April, there have been extensive cost cuts and consolidation throughout the company. That is likely to continue as Warner Bros. Discovery
WBD,
-5.60%

 raised its cost-synergy target to $3.5 billion from $3 billion.

There have been more than 1,000 layoffs at Warner Bros. Discovery — whose holdings include movie and television studios, CNN and HBO, and Discovery channels such as Food Network and HGTV — over the past seven months, people familiar with the matter said, and that figure is expected to grow significantly during the next several months.

Zaslav said the tough economy and business environment requires “difficult decisions we know are necessary to position our company for long-term growth and success. None of this is easy, and nothing happens overnight.”

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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