HBO Nordic was one of the first forays by an American media company to compete against Netflix on the global stage. The subscription streaming video platform had sought to beat Netflix to the Scandinavian market, but followed up the SVOD pioneer, launching in 2014.
Since then, Netflix has dominated the market — no small task considering the Nordics represent the world’s highest penetration of SVOD services. On Oct. 26, HBO Nordic transitions to HBO Max as part of WarnerMedia’s global rollout of the branded SVOD/AVOD platform.
Max is expanding to six European countries (the Nordics being four of them), with an 14 additional territories added in 2022.
Consumer interest in Max is substantial, with a majority of households that plan to purchase service, already having at least one other video streaming service, according to Mediavision. The research firm contends Max will drive service stacking rather than overall household penetration — similar to how Disney+ entered the region a year ago. Since then, Disney+ has managed to add over 1.6 million Nordic households in less than one year.
The buzz is welcomed considering HBO Nordic has been losing subscribers since reaching 1.9 million households in early 2020. That tally declined by 145,000 homes during the pandemic as housebound consumers sought alternative streaming services. Netflix ended 2020 with more than 4 million Scandinavian subs.
The SVOD market overall has added about 3 million new subs since spring 2020, according to Mediavision.
In a note, the research firm believes Max’s lower subscription price (8.90 Euro), compared to (10.95 Euro) for HBO Nordic. At launch, current HBO Nordic will be able to get Max for an annual fee of 69.99 Euro, or 5.83 Euro monthly. Only Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video are less expensive.
In addition, Max will allow three simultaneous streams compared to two for HBO Nordic. Netflix’s top tier (four simultaneous streams) costs 15.99 Euro.
The launch of Max will bring a whole new set of localized series and movies to the service, including the Swedish comedy drama “Lust,” staring Sofia Helin and Anja Lundqvist.
Max also promises improvements to technical aspects of the service, including user experience and the possibility to create individual profiles, as well as usage of the service on an unlimited number of devices. This is a lot more user friendly than HBO Nordic.
“HBO is pulling a ‘Disney’ on the Nordic market,” Mediavision wrote in a note. “Launching a high-end, fiction-oriented, technically advanced service at a significantly lower price. With a history of great performance in the Nordic market, and a high consumer interest, things are looking very exciting for HBO.”