Survey: HBO Max has highest customer satisfaction among SVOD services

Whip Media said the high customer satisfaction for HBO Max was likely due to parent company AT&T's decision to release new films like "Cry Macho" on the streamer at the same time they appeared in movie theaters. (Warner Bros.)

AT&T WarnerMedia's streaming service HBO Max has the highest customer satisfaction among comparable streaming products, according to the results of a new survey published last week.

The survey, conducted by Whip Media, evaluated responses collected in June from nearly 4,500 users of TV Time, a smartphone app and social media platform that helps TV fans track what they watch across linear and streaming television. Whip Media and TV Time share common ownership.

The survey found more than 80% of HBO Max subscribers were either satisfied or very satisfied with the service, narrowly edging out Netflix in the same category.

Whip Media said the high customer satisfaction for HBO Max was likely due to parent company AT&T's decision to release new blockbuster films on the streamer at the same time they appeared in movie theaters, starting with "Wonder Woman 1984" last December. HBO Max continues to debut an average of one theatrical film every two weeks on the service, though only customers of its highest-price, ad-free tier get access to the movies.

That limitation may not be a problem for most HBO Max subscribers: Whip Media found that 60% of respondents preferred paying for a streaming service if it meant they could watch movies and TV shows without commercial interruptions. Lower-income subscribers were more likely to desire free services supported by advertisements.

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Around 20% of respondents across all income levels said they would be willing to pay for a streaming service if the fee was subsidized by ads. Last month, an AT&T executive affirmed the company was receiving positive customer feedback for a cheaper version of HBO Max that occasionally interrupts some programming with a handful of ads.

"We always knew that it was going to be critically important to be able to deliver a materially lower price to as many households as possible, and we also knew that having an ad-supported version was the easiest transactional value that there is between a service and a customer," Julian Franco, the senior product manager for HBO Max with Ads, said at the StreamTV Ad Summit.

But AT&T still has a long way to go before it wins over consumers for the long term: When Whip Media asked its TV Time users which streaming service they would keep if they could only subscribe to one, Netflix emerged as the clear winner, grabbing 41% of responses. HBO Max was the third-most favored streaming service with 13% of the vote. (Hulu, the Walt Disney Company's general entertainment streaming service, was in second place, with 21% of respondents favoring it.)

That scenario may play out in a slightly different form: The majority of consumers surveyed by Whip Media said they felt there were too many subscription streaming options on the market. More than 85% of those who expressed this view said subscribing to different services was getting too expensive; another 66% said they found it annoying to switch between apps all the time.

"With so much competition in the industry, churn is inevitable," Whip Media said in its white paper. But the number of people who are actually dropping their streaming services is still relatively low: Just three out of 10 people surveyed by the company said they canceled a streaming service since last year.