New HBO Max Ad-Supported Tier Launches

HBO Max's ad-supported tier will carry only four minutes of advertising per hour (Image credit: HBO Max)

BURBANK, Calif.—HBO Max went live with its ad-supported tier today, June 2, offering consumers the choice between a $9.99 tier with limited ads and an ad-free subscription for $14.99. 

The move is important both for HBO Max, which wants to accelerate its subscriber counts, and for the ad industry, which has been worrying about reaching consumers in a landscape where pay TV subscriptions are declining and some of the dominant SVOD services like Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon and HBO Max did not offer ads. 

“Advertising is a time-tested way to reduce the cost of great entertainment and reach a wider audience,” said the executive VP and general manager of HBO Max, Andy Forssell. “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.”

HBO Max reports that more than 35 brands across all major categories are slated to go live on HBO Max this June, “including two Brand Block partners in auto and insurance, with 72 creatives currently housed for campaigns.”

Both HBO Max subscription tiers offer access to the streaming platform’s lineup of new original programming, as well its deep catalog of content from such entertainment brands as HBO, Warner Bros., DC, Turner Classic Movies and Cartoon Network.  

One big difference is that the ad-supported tier will not include the ability to download content for offline viewing, and the streaming video quality will be capped at 1080p. 

In addition, 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. The films 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. 

The ad load on the new tier is capped at four minutes per hour. HBO Max has said it is committed to offering “the lowest commercial ad load in the streaming industry.”

Ads will also not play during HBO programming. 

“Today we launch an innovative, best in class streaming ad experience,” said JP Colaco, head of advertising sales, WarnerMedia. “Together with our valued partners we will continue to explore the art of what’s possible in video advertising across all platforms.”    

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.