HBO Max’s ad-supported tier will officially launch in June, according to CNBC. The plan will cost $10 a month, about $5 less than what you’d pay for the ad-free version of HBO Max or what you’d pay to bundle it into a YouTube TV or cable subscription.
HBO’s parent company, WarnerMedia, said that it would only attach advertising to shows exclusively available to HBO Max. It’s unclear if this will affect HBO Max’s Sesame Street content, for instance, or the Cartoon Network collection. Shows produced by HBO, including Euphoria, Succession, and Game of Thrones, will remain ad-free. The WarnerMedia same-day premieres will not be available on the ad-supported tier of HBO Max.
According to CNBC, HBO executives had considered pushing through a fully ad-supported HBO Max subscription plan for $5 a month but “nixed that idea” after private discussions went nowhere. Cable distributors reportedly aren’t pleased with HBO’s venture out on its own since those add-on subscription costs help bring in revenue.
The jury is out on whether the move will be a good one for HBO, which has been pitting its service against massive libraries from Netflix and Disney+. Its current subscriber count is a little fuzzy, given that the company conflates HBO and HBO Max subscribers, and also bundles in those who have access to HBO and HBO Max through a cable subscription.
But when it comes to price, HBO Max’s $10/month plan with ads costs the same as Paramount+ and Peacock Premium without ads. It’s unclear if ads will help or hinder HBO Max, even if it brings with it a lower price.
But HBO Max’s big offering against other streaming services is that it’s a direct line to WarnerMedia’s crop of blockbuster movie titles. It’ll be interesting to see if HBO sticks with premiering new films as they debut in theaters as the pandemic eases, though it’s been nice being able to recreate the theater experience at home. And anyway, doesn’t HBO stand for “home box office”? We’ll see how long that lasts.
Updated 4/29/2021 at 11:50 a.m. ET: This article has been changed to note that WarnerMedia same-day premieres will not be available on the ad-supported tier of HBO Max. We regret the error.