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WarnerMedia’s Bob Greenblatt Says Company Didn’t Have the ‘Luxury’ of Time When Building HBO Max

Stephanie Sengwe

The launch of HBO Max is happening in a starkly different economy than anyone would have predicted. With the coronavirus still at large, WarnerMedia, like many companies, has had to halt production on all of the streaming service’s upcoming programming. Nonetheless, with a little over two weeks left until they launch on May 27, the team at HBO Max is proud of the product they created.

Coronavirus notwithstanding, HBO Max would’ve still been launching during a competitive time within the industry. The service will be the fourth streamer to launch nationally in the span of six months, following the November launches of Apple TV+ and Disney+, as well as Quibi, which launched in April. Also worth noting is that NBCUniversal’s Peacock launched in April for Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Flex customers. Peacock’s national launch will take place on July 15.

With the streaming market booming, Bob Greenblatt, chairman of WarnerMedia entertainment and direct-to-consumer, says the development of HBO Max had to happen swiftly and precisely. In an interview with Variety, he stated, “We didn’t have the luxury of spending three to six months figuring out what product we wanted to build and what the service should or shouldn’t be. All of our decisions had to be made quickly.”

In addition to all the varying challenges internally, there has also been quite a lot of buzz regarding HBO Max’s steep $14.99 price. However, company execs seems to stand by it. “There are all kinds of opinions about price,” John Stankey, president and COO of AT&T, told Variety. “Every member of the board of directors had an opinion about the price. [However], price is the easiest attribute to change in a product. It’s the 20-pound sledgehammer in marketing.”

This echoes AT&T CFO John Stephens’ recent sentiments regarding the price tag as well. During an online appearance at the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit, Stephens asserted that customers of HBO Max are getting a lot of bang for their buck at the $15 price point.

“You got HBO Max, and you realize that it’s thousands of more hours, more titles, and quite frankly, attracts many different demographics. So from that perspective, I think it’s going to be something that’s going to be accepted … it’s very high quality, and significant content that goes across the whole family unit or multiple individuals as opposed to just one demographic,” he stated.

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