HBO Max is reportedly getting ready to introduce its ad-supported tier next year and hints are dropping about what HBO with advertising might look like.
According to Digiday, HBO Max’s ad-supported service will launch in the second quarter of 2021 but WarnerMedia may be open to having it launch late in the first quarter in time for the 2021 NCAA men’s college basketball tournament, which airs in part on Turner networks. The report aligns with the time frame AT&T provided last October for HBO Max with ads.
HBO Max currently costs $14.99/month – though the service is currently running a deal for $11.99/month for a year – and the ad-supported tier is expected to cost less. While clear details about pricing have yet to emerge, reports have suggested how AT&T and WarnerMedia will approach putting ads on HBO.
According to the report, 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.
While HBO has been adamant about not featuring ads in newer HBO shows, Variety reported that the company may be working on allowing advertising in older HBO shows and content that it no longer in a first-run window. The publication said that HBO Max will mostly feature standard video ads along with some other ad formats that could focus on being interactive or less disruptive.
AT&T is reportedly seeking guarantees from potential advertisers. According to Digiday, HBO Max is looking for $250,000 per quarter from advertisers and setting CPMs around $80, which is similar to the rates for primetime broadcast television.