If you’re a fan of HBO Max’s content, but you’re less than thrilled with its $15 per month subscription price, you may soon have a cheaper option. HBO’s parent company, WarnerMedia (owned by AT&T), is planning an ad-supported version of the streaming video service as early as June 2021. It will only cost $10 per month, according to a report from CNBC that cites “people familiar with the matter.”
To many, the concept of advertising and HBO together in the same breath will feel like a contradiction. As a paid add-on for cable subscribers, HBO’s content has always been ad-free. And while it’s not entirely clear how the new ad-supported version of HBO Max will work, the report quotes WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar saying that the new service “won’t muddy HBO shows with commercials.”
Advertisements and price won’t be the only differences between the two flavors of HBO Max. At the end of 2020, the ongoing situation with the global pandemic prompted WarnerMedia to announce that all of its 2021 theatrical releases, like Dune and The Matrix 4, would be released simultaneously on HBO Max. Despite having said that the ad-supported service would also get these movies at the same time, Kilar apparently reversed that position last month, according to the report.
Providing an ad-supported tier, whether for free or for a reduced price, is something many streaming services have chosen to do as a way of acquiring customers who are highly price-sensitive. Hulu, Paramount+, and NBCUniversal’s Peacock have chosen the reduced-price route, while dozens of other services provide their content for free with ads.
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