It’s Cheaper, But Is It Worth It?

It’s safe to say that what used to be known as “normal television” has had its day, with streaming services now dominating people’s viewing habits and the biggest new releases being exclusive to one streamer or another. However, as HBO Max launches a reduced cost ad-supported service today, and with many popular shows now arriving weekly rather than in one binge-watch dump, are we seeing an evolution taking place of what the future of television holds.

The move by the WarnerMedia platform means that from today, new and returning subscribers have an option to pay the regular $14.99 a month, or a lower price of $9.99 a month if they are willing to have ad breaks included in the programs. Additionally, a yearly pre-pay option is also available, offering a 15% discount which makes the cost $149.99 and $99.99 respectively. So the question is, how much are subscribers willing to pay to have an ad-free experience? Well it might be worth considering that the two-tier streaming subscription option does not just include a commercial-free experience.

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According to HBO Max’s information on the tier options, “The ad-supported tier will not include the ability to download content for offline viewing, and streaming video quality will be capped at 1080p. Warner Bros. same-day premiere films debuting in theaters and on HBO Max throughout 2021 are not included in the HBO Max ad-supported tier, but will become available on both tier options when the films debut via the HBO service in the months following their theatrical releases as part of HBO’s output deal with Warner Bros.”

A lot to unpack for an additional $5 a month, so it may not be just a choice of whether or not viewers want to see adverts on not. When considering the amount of releases expected to come to HBO Max in the next few months alone, and the ability to download content to watch offline, there could be a lot who decide the relatively small difference in cost is worth it for this and the removal of commercials.

Further information from HBO Max has suggested that subscribers to the lower tier will see a maximum ad time of four minutes per hour, which they state shows “a commitment to the lowest commercial ad load in the streaming industry.” Executive vice president of HBO Max, Andy Forssell commented, “We’ve worked hard to create an elegant, tasteful ad experience that is respectful of great storytelling for those users who choose it, and which we’re confident will deliver for our advertising partners as well.”

With recent HBO Max content including the much awaited Friends: The Reunion special, and the Snyder Cut of DC’s Justice League, there have been many reasons for US viewers to get on board the streaming service. Subscribers to the top tier not only have access to a wealth of Warner Bros TV series and movies from the archives but also the upcoming simultaneous theater/streaming releases such as The Suicide Squad, Dune and The Matrix 4 all arriving before the end of the year. One thing is for sure, the evolution of television is a long way from over.

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