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This is Why HBO Max is Planning an Ad-Supported Tier

Jeff Kotuby

Could one of the last bastions of ad-free streaming embrace advertisements? If WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar has anything to say about it, HBO Max just might offer an ad-supported tier going forward.

At today’s Morgan Stanley TMT Conference, Kilar was asked about the potential for ads to appear on HBO Max, and offered a detailed look as to what needed to happen before the streaming giant would offer an ad-supported tier.

“We need 2 things,” Kilar said. “We need…more addressability — that a marketer gets to choose who they want to target and how they want to target them — and make sure that we launch cleanly and successfully our ad-supported option of HBO Max.”

Should HBO Max go the AVOD route, Kilar is confident in people choosing it over the ad-free tier. “I do believe we’re going to see uptake in people choosing the ad-supported option of HBO Max,” Kilar said. “And that of course is going to create lots of inventory for our advertising team to be able to sell to marketers.”

If HBO Max does allow ads, it would become the most premium service with an ad-supported streaming option. Netflix has often said it wouldn’t pursue an ad-supported option, the old adage, “never say never” rings greatly when we see the changing streaming landscape. Disney+ is another service that seems unlikely to go the AVOD route.

Another consideration is where the ads might play within HBO content. The current AVOD players often place their ads in strange slots within a movie, and premium shows don’t build toward natural act breaks the way traditional ad-supported programs do. HBO could also consider paywalling some content while allowing other content to live in the AVOD version.

You can subscribe to HBO Max for $14.99 a month either directly from HBO, or through partners like Hulu, YouTube TV, Apple TV Channels, Google Play, Samsung, or select cable companies. You can stream HBO Max on devices like Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Chromecast, Android TV, Xbox One/Series S, PS4/5, iPhone, iPad, Android, Samsung Smart TV (via AirPlay), LG Smart TV (2019+ via AirPlay 2), VIZIO Smart TV (2016+ via Cast or AirPlay 2).

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