HBO Max with ads launches in early June at $9.99/month

The ad-supported tier of HBO Max will debut during the first week of June and will cost $9.99 per month, down from the regular $14.99 per month ad-free product.

Both HBO Max tiers offer access to HBO Max original programming along with a catalog of content from HBO, Warner Bros., DC, Turner Classic Movies, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network and more. The primary difference is that ad-supported HBO Max subscribers won’t get access to Warner Bros. same-day premiere films debuting on the service throughout 2021.

During its Upfront presentation today, WarnerMedia some of the ad formats and adjacencies that marketers will have access to on HBO Max:

  • Brand Block, which is available now, will let brands buy a block of content and offer consumers a limited commercial experience
  • Pause Ads, which are coming soon, will let brands place ads on the pause screen when a consumer takes a break.
  • Branded Discovery, which is coming soon, will surround the content discovery process.

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AT&T CEO John Stankey stressed how careful his company has been in maintaining direct customer relationships in negotiations with channel partners for HBO Max. It’s an approach that led to prolonged standoffs with major streaming platforms like Amazon and Roku, causing frustration for millions of streaming video consumers. However, Stankey said his company will be just as stringent when discussing terms for the ad-supported HBO Max.

“In some cases, we were criticized for taking a long time to get certain agreements worked out,” said Stankey, adding that his company refused to back off on ensuring that HBO Max distribution deals retained the ability for AT&T to talk with customers, bill customers, manage customer lifecycles, and control the user interface.

AT&T will be a “little more dependent on its owned and operated channels” for HBO Max AVOD distribution, Stankey said. “You’re going to see us use, for example, our own prepaid channels. But you’re not going to see us dramatically change our distribution strategy just to get volume.”

Of course, that strategy could change in 2022 if AT&T’s proposed merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery goes through, which would place Discovery CEO David Zaslav in charge of HBO Max and other WarnerMedia outlets.