WBD’s Max international rollout gathers pace

Following Warner Bros. Discovery’s revamped Max launch into Latin America and ahead of a roll out across Europe the company has released metrics that suggest it’s on the right track with app and other updates, as it looks to international markets to help drive streaming growth.

For instance, “habituality” (getting subscribers to use more often, engage more frequently) is one tactic to reduce churn, and since launch in the U.S one year ago, Max has seen quarterly increases in user habituality, according to the company. This year that has sped up to month over month increases.

Improvements to the user experience on relaunched Max compared to the prior HBO Max app – itself built on the tech stack of HBO Go and HBO Now – have helped.  The reboot prioritized improved navigation and greater personalization in a bid to help customers find their content faster.

“As we continue to optimize the platform, users are finding something to watch faster,” said WBD in a statement. “Over the last 6 months, we have seen an 8.5% improvement in median time spent from when users first log in, to the time they click play on a title new to that user.  

“This signals that the updates being made to the platform are effectively helping users discover new content quicker.”

In February, WBD CEO David Zaslav cited rollouts of Max in key international regions as one of its meaningful growth levers as it prioritizes streaming profitability. That expansion began on February 27 when Max made its international debut across 39 territories in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Less than two months on and 92% of existing HBO Max customers in Latin America have downloaded the new Max app and signed in, and of those migrated subscribers, 94% have already watched an asset on the app.

What WBD terms “early signs of consumer satisfaction” regarding the app experience in the region is backed up with app ratings that are higher than HBO Max’s at the time it was shuttered.

In Mexico for example, the Max app is rated 4.9 on the Apple Store and 4.8 on Google Play, which is an improvement over the last comparable figures for HBO Max at 4.4 and 2.5 respectively.

The app in Latin America supports English, Spanish and Portuguese languages and has integrated 160 distribution partner authentications. Max also supports 25 currencies across 39 regions and enabled global roaming to let traveling subscribers stream the service wherever it’s available.

Now, WBD’s product and tech teams are prepping for the Max debut in Europe beginning May 21 with the Nordics, Spain, Portugal, and Central and Eastern Europe. Launches will follow in Poland, the Netherlands and Belgium (where the service will remain branded as HBO Max) and in France in time for Paris 2024 Olympics, which is being live streamed on WBD’s Eurosport channel.

As a further enticement to viewers, Season 2 House Of The Dragon will premiere on Max in Europe on June 17.

There is no word yet on when Max will launch in the key Europe markets of UK, Italy and Germany where Warner Bros and HBO have prior pacts with Comcast-owned pay-TV operator Sky.

Improvements to Max live

In addition to supporting international rollouts, the streamer has released a number of enhancements for viewers of its live streamed programming -  although to date these are mostly only greenlit for the United States.

Updates include:

  • High dynamic range in the form of Dolby Vision, which launched ahead of the NBA All-Star Weekend on February 13. WBD claims Max is the first streaming service to offer live sports benefiting from the visual upgrade, which is currently available on supported devices through the Bleacher Report Sports add-on.
  • Timed to coincide with March Madness, Max users can now access a dedicated schedule for all live sports events in the U.S within the app.
  • Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) is now included within CNN Max live programming for more effective targeting.

Global updates to Max live sports coverage includes the ability for viewers to replay select events within 15 minutes of the live event's conclusion. A new live DVR function means Max users can go back in the timeline and rewatch any major moments providing they are streaming on web and Android mobile devices via Chromecast.