June 12, 2020
WarnerMedia’s high-profile subscription streaming video platform HBO Max is slowly gaining traction commensurate with its hype. The $14.99 service, which launched May 27, generated from 1.6 million to 1.8 million app downloads through June 9, according to separate data from SensorTower and Apptopia, respectively. That compared with 900,000 Now downloads through April. Both apps are free to download.
Max generated 334,000 app downloads in its first 24 hours, leading to some speculation the platform wasn’t resonating. Indeed, as the last major SVOD platform to launch, Max joined a saturated market driven by Netflix, Disney+, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.
Max has been installed by approximately 121,000 first-time U.S. users per day. That is 572% more than Now’s daily average of about 18,000 installs in the 14 days leading up to Max’s launch. SensorTower said Max’s app downloads represented a 591% increase from the 246,000 first-time installs the Now app saw in the 14 days leading up to Max’s launch.
While Max may be marketed as HBO on steroids, WarnerMedia also offers identically-priced HBO Now and HBO Go — the latter a VOD platform for HBO pay-TV customers. Both Now subs and Go users get free access to Max. Still the combination can be confusing to first-time consumers.
“We had to figure out this weird way that HBO was now HBO Max, and then we had to download it and find our way in that,” Ross Clugston, executive creative director at marketing agency Superunion, told AdWeek. “I think that’s the story here: the story of HBO fragmenting this brand.”
Indeed, WarnerMedia is spending heavily to market Max as much more than HBO. The platform is targeting families with children, in addition to fans of nostalgic television shows such as “Friends,” “South Park,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “Game of Thrones,” among others.
A “Friends” reunion special remains on tap once filming can resume in the COVID-19 era. Max just renewed a second season of original series “Love Life,” starring Anna Kendrick. It also pulled Oscar-winning classic Gone With the Wind from catalog movies due the racial depiction of Southern plantations during and after the Civil War.
“Consumers don’t do well with confusion,” said Dan Rayburn, analyst at Frost & Sullivan and EVP of StreamingMedia.com. “Consumers pick services that are easy to use and they can understand.”