Ad-supported HBO Max launching this summer

A cheaper, ad-supported version of AT&T’s streaming service HBO Max is set to launch in June, executives at the company confirmed last week.

At an investor’s day presentation last week, WarnerMedia chief executive Jason Kilar said AT&T has already seen a commitment of $80 million in spending from advertisers and marketers for the cheaper version of HBO Max.

As first reported by The Desk, the ad-supported version of HBO Max will likely not include newer episodes of HBO original programs, which are not allowed to include advertisements based on existing agreements with cable and satellite companies that govern how programs are distributed by the network.

Instead, AT&T is hoping HBO Max will serve as a window-shop service that eventually entices subscribers to upgrade to the full experience. Currently, HBO Max costs $15 a month from AT&T directly, a price that is matched by most cable and satellite partners, including Comcast (Xfinity) and AT&T-owned DirecTV.

Title cards for new HBO Max episodes would appear within the app, but the episodes would be “locked out” until customers paid for the full experience.

Some HBO original programs will still appear without commercials on the cheaper streaming service, Kilar said, though the light version of HBO Max wouldn’t include same-day theatrical releases of Warner Bros. movies like the full-featured version does.

In addition to the launch of the cheaper HBO Max, AT&T executives are readying a global expansion of the premium HBO Max. By June, HBO Max will be available in nearly four dozen Latin American countries and the Caribbean. They will be joined by another two dozen territories in Europe by the end of the year.

“Our number one priority in 2021 is growing our customer relationships,” John Stankey, AT&T’s chief executive, said last week. “It’s about more than just adding to our customer base. It’s about expanding the growth opportunity in our three market focus areas and also increasing our share within each market.”

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