October 21, 2021
Since launching the ad-supported HBO Max platform in June, the less-expensive $9.99 monthly plan versus the ad-free $14.99 option has seen significant viewer traction, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said on the Oct. 21 AT&T investor call.
The Max AVOD option, which launched with about $80 million in upfront advertising support, does not include same-day access to Warner Bros. Pictures theatrical releases. That will change in late January 2022 when Warner Bros. reverts back to a 45-day theatrical window on most major releases. Max launches next week in six European countries.
“We’ve been happy with the [Max AVOD] launch not only in terms of the absolute response in subscribers, but also because advertising helps lower the price and increase the value for an HBO Max subscription,” Kilar said. “We see it as strategic.”
The executive said Warner is the only studio to release 18 movies in theaters and on streaming in the past 12+ months during the pandemic. With pending releases The Matrix Resurrections, King Richard and Dune not streaming on the AVOD option, Kilar said parity between the platforms would occur in 2022 when Max and Max AVOD have access to select Warner theatrical titles on day one.
WarnerMedia launched its controversial day-and-date theatrical/Max streaming strategy on Dec. 25, 2020, with the release of Wonder Woman 1984.
Kilar again defended his decision to simultaneously release Warner theatrical movies on streaming, saying such a decision was the result of “being in the middle of a pandemic” that had seen most theaters operating at limited capacity or closed.
“We’ve been very much leading, and the first over the wall in terms of bringing our 2021 slate to customers in a way that can work for them, but can also work for exhibition and our participants,” he said. “What we’ve learned is that motion pictures continue to matter. We feel very good about the quarter and where things are going.”