HBO Max’s ad-supported streaming option has officially launched on the platform. The new tier costs $10 per month, which is $5 off HBO Max’s regular $15 per month cost. How exactly HBO Max planned to successfully introduce ads on its premium content is a bit of a head scratcher, since premium and ad-free content was actually HBO’s whole point to begin with. But to hear the company justify, ads on the platform’s content will be both “elegant” and “respectful” to the subject.
“Advertising is a proven way to lower the cost of great entertainment and reach a wider audience,” Andy Forssell, EVP and general manager at HBO Max, said in a statement. “We’ve worked hard to create an elegant, tasteful ad experience that respects great storytelling the users who choose it, and we’re confident it will deliver for our ad partners.”
While significantly cheaper, users who subscribe at this budget level will miss out on some of HBO Max’s more premium features. The company introduced 4K streaming on its service last year with the premiere of Wonder Woman 1984, but budget-level video quality is capped at 1080p — just like Netflix does with its cheaper tiers.
In addition, titles will not be available for offline viewing on the more affordable plan, and users will lose the ability to access same-day movie premieres on the service. Subscribers will eventually be able to watch these titles, not until the months after their theatrical release windows have ended. However, anyone with the cheaper plan with ads will have full access to the service’s originals.
WarnerMedia said in a press release that advertising time will be limited to a maximum of four minutes per hour. Plus, ads won’t play on HBO originals — a smart move by WarnerMedia if it hopes to maintain its relationships with high-profile talent and creators. The company said that as users continue to use the service, “subscribers can expect more personalization in the ads they see with more innovation in future formats.” The ad experience kicks off this month with over 35 brands at launch.
Given that the originals are pretty much the whole point of subscribing to the service, and bearing in mind that these titles will remain ad-free, it’ll be interesting to see how HBO Max’s subscriber count. will change in the coming months. For example, I’m looking forward to scratching $5 a month from my subscription tab now that I know I can stream Mare by Easttown in peace.