No NHL for HBO Max this year but the future is open

Jason Kilar
WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar (AT&T/WarnerMedia)

Despite securing streaming rights as part of its new deal with the NHL, WarnerMedia doesn’t have plans to put live hockey on HBO Max this year.

However, CEO Jason Kilar, speaking today at a MoffettNathanson investor conference, said NHL content on HBO Max is absolutely something that could happen down the road a little further. He added that when his team built the new HBO Max platform, it made a conscious decision to not just design it around on-demand programming.

If live sports is possibly in HBO Max’s future, could news be as well? When asked about CNN’s potential role within the streaming service, Kilar said the current linear CNN product will remain the way it is. But he sees opportunities for the team and franchise at CNN to expand beyond the linear channel.

Kilar’s latest comments seem to reinforce what he said last month on the Recode podcast about taking CNN, in some form, into a direct-to-consumer streaming environment.

RELATED: WarnerMedia sure sounds like it wants a CNN streaming service

While WarnerMedia contemplates the longer-term strategies for building live content into HBO Max, the company is only about one month out from the launch of an ad-supported version of the streaming service. Reports have suggested that the product will cost $9.99 per month—down from the current $14.99 per month rate. Kilar didn’t confirm a price today but he did say WarnerMedia wants to price it in a way where it is “economically indifferent” to whichever tier consumers choose.

“We want to make sure that we’re not creating a price that causes us to want to root one way or the other. Because the minute a company starts to root one way or the other, there’s risk that they could be at odds with what is best for an individual customer,” he said.

Kilar provided some extra clarity on where within HBO Max the ads will be showing up. There will be a combination of pre- and mid-roll ads along with some situations where there is no mid-roll. He previously disclosed that the ad-supported tier won’t include same-day streaming access to Warner Bros. 2021 films.