WarnerMedia’s HBO Max announced today that it will debut its ad-supported subscription tier the first week of June. The tier, which is called HBO Max with Ads, will cost $10 per month — $5 less than the existing ad-free version of HBO Max ($15 per month).
The streaming entertainment platform, which is home to movies like Wonder Woman 1984, and TV shows like the sitcom Friends, says it is committing to having the lightest ad load in the streaming industry, along with the most premium content.
Subscribers to the ad-supported tier of HBO Max will have access to the full HBO Max content catalog, but as previously reported, this will exclude Warner Bros. same-day premiere films debuting in theaters and on HBO Max throughout 2021. These include movies like Dune and The Matrix 4, which WarnerMedia had previously announced.
The server also took the opportunity to remind people of upcoming special events like Friends: The Reunion, which it describes as “a real-life unscripted celebration of the beloved show.”
Earlier reports quoted WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, who said that the new service “won’t muddy HBO shows with commercials.” This led to speculation about how exactly ads would work on the new, more affordable tier.
In a press release emailed to news outlets, WarnerMedia described three different kinds of ad experiences that advertisers will be able to buy:
Brand Block: Where brands own a block of content and consumers delight in a limited commercial experience.
Pause Ads: Create a new space to connect with meaningful engagement opportunities when a consumer takes a break.
Branded Discovery: Surround the content discovery process as consumers explore HBO Max recommended programming.
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.
If and when HBO Max launches this ad-supported tier, Netflix and Disney+ would be among the very few services to only offer paid subscription options.
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