Just days after we named HBO Max TV Streamer of the Year at the 2022 BingoTingo Choice Awards, Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) bad news for new and existing HBO Max subscribers.
After the platform’s merger with Discovery Plus in 2023, HBO Max’s subscription prices will almost certainly move north, WBD CEO JB Perrette has confirmed. In addition, the ad load on its cheaper, ad-supported subscription tier could potentially double.
The revelations were made during WBD’s recent Q3 earnings call (opens in new tab) with Wall Street analysts, and came after the company reported lower-than-expected results. Between July and September of this year, the WBD direct-to-consumer portfolio — which includes HBO, HBO Max, and Discovery Plus — added just 2.8 million new subscribers. The company’s total subscribers now stands at just 95 million – some 57 million behind Disney Plus (152 million) and a whopping 128 million behind Netflix (223 million).
It’s clear that WBD executives plan to respond to the delay by putting a premium price tag on the company’s still-unnamed superstreamer, which will launch between March and June next year.
More content, higher price
HBO Max’s standard tier currently costs $15 per month, a price that has remained stable since the platform’s launch in May 2020. HBO Max’s ad-supported tier — which debuted in June 2021 — costs $9.99 per month. .
It’s not clear whether Perrette’s allusion to prices being “north” refers to both the standard and ad-supported tiers of HBO Max. Since the amount of content offered by both versions of the streamer is likely to increase after the creation of WBD’s superstreamer, it’s almost certain that prices will increase across the board.
At least that’s Perrette’s justification for the impending raises. Speaking to Wall Street analysts, the WBD CEO noted that blending HBO Max with Discovery Plus will create a streaming product that caters to entire households, rather than just individual users.
This sentiment is in line with what we’ve heard Perrette say before about WBD’s new streamer in development. In August 2022, the CEO confirmed that the service in question will expand the expanded portfolios of WarnerMedia and Discovery Inc. under one streaming roof to offer “something for everyone”. Currently, WBD’s network offerings include HBO, CNN, DC Comics, Discovery Channel, Food Network, HGTV, Magnolia Network, OWN, TBS, and TNT.
Explaining how the new streamer will prove greater than the sum of its parts, Perrette also said: “HBO Max has a competitive feature set, but has had performance and customer issues. Discovery Plus has the best performance and consumer ratings, but more limited features. Our combined service will focus on delivering the best of both.”
So it’s clear that WBD sees its new streamer as a more valuable offering than HBO Max and Discovery Plus as standalone products – and subscribers are expected to pay for that superior value.
On the subject of ads, Perrette also noted during the company’s recent earnings call, “Today we have two to three minutes of ads on HBO Max ‘ad-light’, about half of what we have on Discovery Plus, so if we are rolling out the new combined products, we have close to 100% growth of new inventory available to us as we want to combine the advertising of those two products.”
In other words, HBO Max’s ad-supported tier — whatever guise it appears after its merger with Discovery Plus — is getting more ads. Sure, this tier will likely remain significantly cheaper than the ad-free version of the new streamer, but that won’t come as much of a relief to the millions of subscribers who have already signed up for HBO Max’s cheaper tier.
For more HBO Max-based content, check out our best HBO Max shows, best HBO Max documentaries, and best HBO Max movie articles.