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Analysis: HBO Max’s Ad-Supported Success Should Provide Netflix, Disney+ Roadmap for Future Plans

Ad-supported streaming is definitely here to stay. That’s what the numbers point to in a new survey released by Antenna, which tracks and quantifies streaming habits. Antenna dove deep into HBO Max and its two pricing tiers as a way to analyze what their numbers mean for other streaming services just now adding an ad-supported tier to their premium subscription service.

HBO Max launched its cheaper, ad-supported tier in June of 2021. At the time of launch, only 1% of U.S. subscribers signed up for the new tier. That number has grown steadily over the last year, to the point that now 12% of subscribers — 1.9 million customers — are now signed up for the streamer’s ad-supported tier.

New customers are making up an increasing proportion of ad-supported subscribers, as well. At least 25% of newly subscribed customers have been choosing the ad-supported tier of HBO Max during every month of 2022.

Customers are not only supportive of ads with their HBO Max subscription, they are generally satisfied with the results. Reportedly 92% of HBO Max customers are happy with the ad-supported tier, the highest percentage of any ad-supported premium subscription service.

Ad-supported tiers of Hulu, Peacock, discovery+, and Paramount+ all enjoy high rates of support from their subscription base as well, but fall behind HBO Max’s approval rating thanks to its limited ad time per hour and variety of commercials. Additionally, more customers are likely to join an ad-supported tier as first-time subscribers than downgrade from an ad-free tier; so both Netflix and Disney stand to gain a bigger influx of subscribers to their ad-supported tiers than current customers who migrate over at launch.

This information comes at an auspicious moment for both Disney+ and Netflix, as both companies are in the process of setting up ad-supported tiers. The streamers stand to reap over $1 billion apiece in extra revenue by introducing subscription options supported by ads.

One lesson that both services would be wise to take from HBO Max’s success is the number and frequency of ads. HBO Max attaches only four minutes of ads per hour to its content, and does not include ads on any HBO original programming. Disney owns the Disney+ library already, so this limited ads strategy will be easier to pull off. Netflix, on the other hand, is still negotiating with studios over who will get what in terms of ad revenues, but the writing is clearly on the wall: more streaming services will be adopting ad-supported tiers, and soon.

  • Netflix

    Netflix is a subscription video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 3,000+ movies, 2,000+ TV Shows, and Netflix Originals like Stranger Things, Squid Game, The Crown, Tiger King, and Bridgerton. They are constantly adding new shows and movies. Some of their Academy Award-winning exclusives include Roma, Marriage Story, Mank, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

    Netflix offers three plans — on 2 device in HD with their “Standard with Ads” ($6.99) plan, on 2 devices in HD with their “Standard” ($15.49) plan, and 4 devices in up to 4K on their “Premium” ($22.99) plan.

    Netflix spends more money on content than any other streaming service meaning that you get more value for the monthly fee.

  • Disney+

    Disney+ is a video streaming service with over 13,000 series and films from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, The Muppets, and more. It is available in 61 countries and 21 languages. It is notable for its popular original series like “The Mandalorian,” “Ms. Marvel,” “Loki,” “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” and “Andor.”

    Disney+ has several plans with or without ads. Disney+ Basic with Ads costs $7.99 / month. If you don’t want ads, you can choose Disney+ Premium with No Ads which costs $13.99 / month.

    The Premium plan also offers an annual option for $139.99 / year ($11.67/mo.).

    If you’d like to add Hulu, choose Duo Basic (with ads) for $9.99 / month. Duo Premium offers Hulu and Disney+ ad-free for $19.99 / month.

    If you want all three Disney streaming services, you can choose Trio Basic (ad-supported) or Trio Premium (ad-free). The Trio plans offer Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ (with Ads) for $7.99 / month. The Disney Bundle Premium (without Ads) for $24.99 / month.

    The app supports unlimited downloads (on their Premium Plans), four simultaneous streamers, up to 7 profiles, 4K streaming, and includes hundreds of avatars.

    The service includes 25+ original series, 10+ original movies, 7,500 past episodes, 100 recent movies, and 400 library titles including the entire Disney Vault.

    You can see the full list of available Disney, Disney Channel, Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, Nat Geo shows and movies, or all available Disney+ content by checking out our Disney+ Streaming Movie List.

    Sign Up

    Get Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ for just $14.99 a month ($12 savings).

David covers the biggest news stories, live events, premieres, and informational pieces for The Streamable. Before joining TS, he wrote extensively for Screen Rant and has years of experience writing about the entertainment and streaming industries. He's a Broncos fan, streams on his Toshiba Fire TV, and his favorites include "Andor," "Rings of Power," and "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds."


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