Stankey: HBO Max Will Have Broader Appeal

While the Disney+ streaming video service is marketed toward families, with scant ‘R’-rated content, HBO Max is eyeing a wider family dynamic including young and “old” adults.

Speaking Dec. 10 at the UBS Global TMT Conference in New York City, WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey said HBO Max would expand its programming portfolio from adult-only edgy content to include fare for younger audiences.

“Most of your young kids in households are not thinking about the next HBO show they’re going to watch — God help us,” Stankey said.

WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey

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The executive, who was filling in for under-the-weather AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, agreed that Disney’s appeal to children is undeniable and hard to match. He said attempts by Disney+ to appeal to a wider family segment remains a challenge — not withstanding the success of “The Mandalorian” “Star Wars” spin-off series.

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“There’s some stuff that’s interesting to adults in the offer and there’s some stuff that’s probably interesting your 20-something and 30-something-year-old members of the family, but it’s not that deep in that regard,” Stankey said.

HBO Max, which launches in May priced at $15 monthly, has hired a small army of executives with a mandate to greenlight content across a wide spectrum of genres, including comedy and animation.

Rather than putting Max on a solitary pedestal, Stankey says Disney+, Netflix and Max offer niche programming target audiences, indicating the three services could represent an ideal OTT bundle.

“You’d be hard-pressed to suggest that Disney+ is a replacement service for Netflix. Or you’d be hard-pressed to say it’s a replacement service for Max,” he said. “They’re addressing different segments.

“Max is a product that appeals to the entire family and the family wireless plan. And it’s something that everybody in the family looks at and says that has something in it for me. The parent is the decision maker at the macro end of the family plan, says, that has something for me, I see myself in that offering.”


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