If you’re a fan of HBO Max’s content but are less than excited about the $ 15 monthly 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. According to a CNBC report that “identified people involved with the matter.”
For many, the concept of advertising and HBO taken together will feel like a contradiction in terms. 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 cites Jason Kilar, CEO of WarnerMedia, and says that the new service “won’t tarnish HBO shows with commercials.”
Advertising and price aren’t the only differences between the two flavors of HBO Max. In late 2020, due to the ongoing situation with the global pandemic, WarnerMedia announced that all 2021 theatrical releases such as Dune and The Matrix 4 will be released simultaneously on HBO Max. Although Kilar has said that the ad-supported service would receive these films at the same time, Kilar apparently reversed that position last month, according to the report.
Many streaming services have chosen to provide an ad-supported tier for free or at a reduced price in order to attract customers who are very price sensitive. Hulu, Paramount +, and NBCUniversals Peacock have opted for the discounted price route, while dozens of other services provide their content with ads for free.
When HBO Max launches that ad-supported tier, Netflix and Disney + will be among the few services that only offer paid subscription options.