When HBO Max arrives next May, it will be pitched to consumers as a new and improved HBO. While the switch may seem logical, WarnerMedia still needs to get its traditional HBO distributors on board.
Right now, Comcast, Charter, DirecTV and other major MVPDs – through their channel packages and premium add-ons – provide a sizable portion of HBO’s subscriber base. WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey, speaking this week at the Code Media Conference, said he’s optimistic WarnerMedia’s pay TV partners will ultimately sign on to new distribution agreements for HBO Max.
He said HBO Max deals for distributors won’t be much different than they were for HBO. Pay TV providers – along with video service platform providers like Amazon, Apple and Roku – will get to participate in the economics (via subscription revenue sharing) of HBO Max every month.
“That’s probably then what happens when you choose to put an icon on your set-top box to steer somebody over to Netflix, because you don’t get that monthly residual,” Stankey said.
Stankey also pointed toward all the user data that will be generated through the HBO Max platform. He said that data will be integrated with Xandr, AT&T’s advanced advertising and analytics business, where it will be anonymized, aggregated and visualized on a nationwide basis. He said that will help with monetization once HBO Max’s AVOD offerings begin rolling out in 2021.
“And look, this is a product that is of the genre of what we’ve done traditionally, adding on to pay TV, and we understand how to support that ecosystem,” Stankey said.
HBO Max will cost $14.99/month (same as HBO and HBO Now) when it launches next year. AT&T expects to have 50 million domestic subscribers and 75-90 million premium subscribers by year-end in 2025 across the U.S., Latin America and Europe.
At launch, the company will offer HBO Max to the approximately 10 million HBO subscribers on AT&T distribution platforms, at no additional charge. HBO Now direct-billed users who subscribe directly through HBONow.com will also have access to WarnerMedia’s HBO Max product. AT&T customers on premium video, mobile and broadband services will be offered bundles with HBO Max included at no additional charge.
HBO Max will launch with 10,000 hours of content, including the entire HBO service and new HBO Max Originals. The service will also have a library of content from Warner Bros., New Line, DC, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth and Looney Tunes along with some third-party licensed series and films.