The “Save for 12” promotion knocks $3 off the list price of the service, expanding on a $12-a-month option first rolled out in the spring ahead of the May 27 launch. With the new offer, customers can sign up via distribution partners including Apple, Google, Hulu, YouTube TV and Comcast’s Xfinity. The previous offer was extended only to those signing up through hbomax.com.
Entering a hotly competitive space, HBO Max has come out of the gate in rather subdued fashion, attracting 4.1 million subscribers as of June 30. John Stankey, CEO of WarnerMedia parent AT&T, has declared the launch “flawless” and said it puts the venture on track to hit its five-year subscriber targets. Like other content purveyors, the service has experienced significant headwinds due to COVID-19 production shutdowns. A reunion special featuring the cast of Friends, once billed as the marquee launch title for HBO Max, has still not been produced.
Consumer confusion about multiple HBO-branded services, a lack of availability through Roku and Amazon Fire TV and a low conversion rate for existing HBO customers have not helped. And the $15 price is at the top of the market, even though HBO Max offers a lot more programming for the same price as stand-alone offering HBO Now.
The $15 cost mirrors the one for most subscribers through their pay-TV packages and HBO Now, introduced in 2015, has been hemmed in by long-term distribution relationships and unable to offer discounts or bundles.
Apple TV+ and Disney+ are $5 and $7 a month, respectively, with extensive promotions making them free for a large swath of viewers. NBCUniversal’s Peacock has a free, basic tier and charges $5 a month for its premium level. Some Peacock Premium subscribers have the cost covered through their broadband or pay-TV packages. Most Netflix subscribers in the U.S., however, pay $13 a month, and WarnerMedia and AT&T have defended their pricing by emphasizing the breadth and general-entertainment nature of the service.
The HBO Max offer is available through September 25 to any new customers or returning subscribers whose accounts have lapsed. While Disney and many others make their subscription services available at a discounted full-year rate, the $12 HBO Max discount does not require a 12-month commitment, allowing customers to cancel anytime.
“We are always looking for ways to enhance our customer experience, so as we head into fall we felt it was the perfect time to pair the incredible lineup of original programming available on HBO Max with an offer that provides customers with even more value,” said Andy Forssell, EVP and General Manager of WarnerMedia and Direct-To-Consumer.
As the promotion takes effect, new original shows will be appearing on HBO Max, including Raised by Wolves, a sci-fi series produced by Ridley Scott, who makes his U.S. TV directing debut on the first two episodes.
Other upcoming originals include Unpregnant, starring Haley Lu Richardson and Barbie Ferreira, and The Murders at White House Farm, a true-crime story about three generations of one family murdered at their isolated farm 30-plus years ago.
Along with the discount, HBO Max also announced that original documentary Class Action Park has been the most-watched film among new subscribers since its August 27 debut. It ranked third in viewership of all HBO Max titles for all subscribers, behind HBO’s Lovecraft Country and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Apart from the rankings, the streaming service did not share any specific viewership metrics for any of its titles.
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