In WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar’s defense, he’s right.
At a time when people across the globe are still grappling with the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, entertainment executives are sharing their reads on the larger situation as it impacts consumers’ relationships with their respective companies. Earlier this week, Disney CEO Bob Chapek argued that he’s not certain whether studios would be able to shift back to traditional theatrical release windows due to consumers having become accustomed to the “luxury” of viewing new movies in their homes. Now, Kilar’s weighed in on the future of Warner’s streaming service, HBO Max.
Speaking at Morgan Stanley’s Technology, Media & Telecom virtual conference that focuses on how industries plan to move forward post-pandemic (a point in time we can’t truly know right now), Kilar suggested there could be a future, cheaper tier of HBO Max offered to the public because—and this may come as a shock to some—people aren’t made of money.
“It turns out that most people on this planet are not wealthy,” Deadline reports Kilar said. “If we can wake up and use price and be able to kind of invent and do things elegantly through advertising to reduce the price of the service, I think that’s a fantastic thing for fans.” Currently, HBO Max costs $15 a month.
While it’s true that many people have been hit hard economically by the pandemic, it’s not as if income inequality and wealth disparity are new social developments that only sprung up in covid-19's wake. Kilar’s right to point out that the vast majority of people living right now are not, and never will be, wealthy. But framing the prospect of an ad-supported tier of HBO Max as anything but an ad-supported tier of HBO Max is a bit more than out of touch.
Deadline says Killar mentioned the idea is “on track to launch later this year” but nothing he said revealed WarnerMedia’s price points or a specific launch date for the new tier, but rather that people within the company are certainly working on it during these unprecedented times.
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