HBO Max is raising the price of its ad-free subscriptions in the US by $1 to $16 a month, joining a parade of .
HBO said Thursday that the higher price for new HBO Max ad-free subscriptions is effective immediately, so anyone signing up from now on will be paying more. Existing subscribers who are paying the old $15-a-month rate will see their charges go up in their next billing cycle on or after Feb. 11.
Over more than three years, Hollywood’s major entertainment companies (and some big tech ones too) have piled on with their own subscription streaming services, taking on the likes of Netflix by embracing streaming as the future of TV. These so-called streaming wars meant, one, that companies were plowing billions of dollars into their services, and, two, that competition for your subscription dollars intensified. Now companies across the field are raising prices to cope.
HBO Max’s hike is the latest after Disney Plus raised prices in December, Apple TV Plus and Hulu increased in October, and Netflix upped US prices early last year.
“This price increase of $1 will allow us to continue to invest in providing even more culture-defining programming and improving our customer experience for all users,” HBO said in a statement.
It’s the first time HBO Max has increased its monthly subscription price since it launched in May 2020. HBO Max also offers a cheaper, ad-supported tier of its service; the company didn’t specify any changes to the price of that HBO Max With Ads option.
HBO Max is in the midst of upheaval, after an ownership change last year. In April, HBO Max became the property of newly formed company Warner Bros. Discovery, a merger of cable network giant Discovery with WarnerMedia, which AT&T had bought for $85 billion less than four years prior.
Now with a mountain of debt and Discovery’s famously frugal CEO, David Zaslav, as its leader, HBO Max has been canceling a laundry list of shows and movies, including a nearly complete Batgirl film that reportedly cost $90 million. It’s also removing some shows, like Westworld, from HBO Max so that the programs can be licensed out to other services — and pull in fresh revenue as a result.
In addition, HBO Max will combine with Discovery Plus into a single service this year. The combo will put prestige fare like House of the Dragon next to basic-cable reality hits like 90-Day Fiancé on the service. But it also means subscribers will get a much bigger library with their memberships: Essentially, the combined service will be bulking up HBO Max with the addition of $7-a-month Discovery Plus, a prospect that was likely to effect pricing at some point.
Joan E. Solsman