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AT&T CFO Says “Encouraging” Results From New Release Movies on HBO Max, Excited About Ad-Supported Version

Jeff Kotuby

Today, AT&T Senior Executive VP & CFO John Stephens confirmed that an ad-supported tier coming to HBO Max later this year.

During the Deutsche Bank Virtual Media, Internet & Telecom Conference, Stephens was asked about HBO Max’s AVOD launch, and the exec finally had some news for all of us, revealing that the company expects to launch an ad-supported tier later this year. “We’re a premium product and we think our HBO and HBO Max deserve that premium pricing,” Stephens said.

“But we think there’s an opportunity to expand the customer base by having a thoughtful, careful AVOD product. We are excited about those opportunities. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’re really confident that we can meet the bar and raise the bar on ourselves on that.”

Stephens was also asked about the future of sports on the platform, though he offered no clarity on whether or not HBO Max would see sports. WarnerMedia owns the rights to NBA basketball, NCAA men’s college basketball, Major League Baseball for their TNT and TBS linear channels.

HBO Max has been the talk of Hollywood after moving the release of films like “Wonder Woman 1984,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and “Tom & Jerry”, the same day as theaters. With theaters slowly opening up, Stephens was asked about their films’ exclusive theatrical window and plans to keep it indefinitely, but said it’s up to the numbers to dictate how the company moves forward.

“What we’ve seen is not only good viewership of those movies on HBO Max but engagement that’s been encouraging,” said Stephens. “Going forward, we’ll continue to learn from it. We’re still gathering data, still certainly paying very close essential to the results, and we’re still uncertain as to when the economy is going to be fully open. We’ll be very thoughtful about it.”

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