AT&T has confirmed that its advertising-supported HBO Max will launch next spring and will cost less than $14.99 per month.
CEO John Stankey declined to tell Bloomberg what the price will be for HBO Max with ads or if the service will have a different name. But he did say that it will feature a “light ad load” and that some content on the service won’t have ads and will only be available to subscribers who pay for the ad-free version.
“Virtually any fast-growing company that’s out there today, many of them have free services that are supported by data and advertising,” Stankey told the publication. “Having an advertising option is going to be important to making sure the broadest cross section of content is available to people moving forward.”
According to Digiday, HBO Max will max out at four ads per hour to TV episodes and two minutes per hour for movies. Those totals match up with a Variety report from last week, that suggested HBO Max was eying between two and four minutes per hour of commercials. Variety cited a consumer survey that suggested HBO Max will avoid putting ads in HBO originals or the most recent films on HBO. However, the ads could appear in content on HBO Max from WarnerMedia’s other networks and in HBO Max originals. Ads could also show up in older films from channels like TCM.
AT&T said that it ended the second quarter with 36.3 million HBO and HBO Max subscribers, up from 34.6 million HBO subscribers at the end of 2019. One month after launch, HBO Max had approximately 3 million retail subscribers and 4.1 million HBO subscribers had activated their HBO Max accounts. Of those, more than 1 million were wholesale subscribers through AT&T.
HBO Max still doesn't have an app on Amazon or Roku devices but Stankey said that one of those disputes “will resolve itself in relatively short order."