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WarnerMedia’s New Streaming Service is Called HBO Max

Phillip Dampier July 9, 2019 Competition, Consumer News, HBO Max, Online Video No Comments

AT&T/WarnerMedia’s new streaming service due to debut in Spring 2020 will be called HBO Max and bundle original and classic content from AT&T-owned networks and studios, including Warner Bros., New Line, DC Entertainment, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, CW, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, and Looney Tunes.

AT&T still has not announced pricing for the service, but most expect it will end up costing around $16 a month, more than any other streaming service.

“HBO Max will bring together the diverse riches of WarnerMedia to create programming and user experiences not seen before in a streaming platform,” Bob Greenblatt, chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and direct-to-consumer, said in a statement.

To attract potential subscribers, AT&T has been pulling back content it owns or controls from other streaming services. In addition to The Office, AT&T announced it will also yank Friends reruns off of Netflix in early 2020, despite collecting $80 million from the streaming giant this year to carry the NBC series that aired its last episode in 2004.

To market HBO Max, WarnerMedia will tie it to the marquee HBO brand and its HBO Max and Go streaming services. HBO Max customers will receive access to the full HBO online catalog of on-demand content, along with more than a dozen new made-for-streaming TV shows and movies. Much of the new content will target a younger audience, including a large roster of CW shows, original movies and shows. But older audiences will also find a large library of classic content from the enormous Turner Classic Movies and Warner Bros. studio libraries.

A preview for HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s new streaming service, debuting in Spring 2020. (0:43)

WarnerMedia’s Streaming Service Will Cost $16-17 and Bundle HBO/Cinemax

Phillip Dampier June 6, 2019 AT&T, Competition, Consumer News, HBO Max, Online Video No Comments

WarnerMedia’s forthcoming streaming service will showcase HBO and Cinemax at the heart of a one-size-fits-all streaming package priced at $16-17 a month, featuring premium movies and Warner Bros. vast movie and TV show collection.

AT&T plans to begin beta testing of the service later this year, with plans to sell the service to consumers as early as March 2020, according to the Wall Street Journal.

John Donovan, CEO of AT&T Communications, signaled AT&T’s “radical reshape” of television on a Credit Suisse Communications conference call event on Wednesday.

“The streaming strategy, whether you call it an OTT or IPTV or thin client, we’re going to transform our product,” Donovan said. “It is the consumer product I am most excited about since the iPhone. It radically reshapes what your concept of television is.”

The “new concept” is a radical departure from AT&T’s earlier plan to offer “good,” “better,” and “best” price points, varying the amount of content depending on how much subscribers were willing to pay. Instead, Donovan proposes one price point for every subscriber, with access to an unprecedented amount of content produced by one of the country’s largest Hollywood studios. Warner Bros. has produced thousands of movies and series since the early days of television in the 1950s and the advent of commercial filmmaking in the early 20th century.

Donovan

“The idea of three tiers never made much sense and is too complicated to fly in the marketplace,” analyst Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson told the newspaper.

Despite the potential of an enormous library of streamed content, consumers may balk at WarnerMedia’s asking price, especially if they have no interest in HBO or Cinemax. Netflix’s most popular two-stream plan costs $12.99 a month and second place Hulu is available for $5.99 a month with ads or $11.99 a month without. Most niche streaming services like MHz Choice, CBS All Access, Acorn Media, BritBox, and other similar services are all under $10 a month. AT&T proposes to set its price higher than traditional premium movie network services like HBO, which usually costs $14.99, to protect the relationships and revenue it earns from cable, satellite, and telco TV providers. But AT&T’s new service may be a tough sell, especially considering forthcoming streaming services like Disney+ plans to launch Nov. 12 at $6.99 a month, and Viacom’s Pluto TV and Sinclair’s STIRR are ad-supported and free. In fact, most of the newly announced streaming services yet to launch are targeting much lower price points, fearing consumers may be nearing their budget limits for more content.

AT&T warns it may adjust pricing before the service launches next year, and there may eventually be a cheaper, ad-supported version, making the service comparable to Hulu. AT&T has also not disclosed how much original made-for-streaming programming it plans to include in the venture, which may be an important consideration to attract price-sensitive customers not interested in watching repeats and movies they can watch elsewhere. Consumers may also be overwhelmed and fatigued by the amount of content already available to watch through established players like Netflix and Hulu, so WarnerMedia may find their streaming service a difficult sell, especially as cord-cutters find prices for streaming live TV services already rising as fast as their old cable TV subscriptions.

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