HBO Max prices in the US are only going up $12 a year. It’s not good news, but it’s to be expected. Content-based services are undergoing a sea change. It’s a shame really, because it all started out promising.
For example, there was a brief moment when modern digital convenience was synonymous with cost savings. We use Uber as an example because they are cheaper than taxis – until they are not so cheap. We booked Airbnb’s because they were cheaper than hotels – until all the advertising and fees made them comparable.
We signed up for all of these streaming services because they were cheaper than cable TV. Now, in general, they really aren’t.
The price increase from $14.99 per month to $15.99 per month should come as no surprise.since massive WarnerMedia-Discovery merger (opens in a new tab) Changes are underway both in front of and behind the scenes to form the new Warner Bros. Discovery Media Group. There were layoffs (CNN was hit hard) and content cuts, including shelving a nearly complete Batgirl movie.
When asked to comment on the price increase (which we see coming), an HBOMax representative didn’t offer much color, instead retweeting a statement reiterating the price change effective immediately for new customers. Existing ones will pay more next month. I just got my HBOMax bill and can confirm it’s still only $14.99 a month through January 2023. HBO would not comment on price changes outside the United States.
As for why the price was raised, the statement added:
“This dollar price increase will allow us to continue investing in delivering more culturally defined programming and improving the customer experience for all of our subscribers.”
It went on to note that this is the first price increase since the platform launched in 2020.
I’m guessing HBOMax held out long before joining nearly every other streaming platform (including Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu) in raising subscription prices. The cost of producing new movies and shows (and, to be fair, the cost of everything) is going up, and now it’s being passed on to subscribers.
The reality for us, however, is that this once-glamourous a la carte menu of affordable streaming content is turning into a sizeable financial burden, essentially equal to the cost of cable we started cutting a few years ago.
A sort of A recent study It was found that a quarter of households pay more than $75 per month for streaming services, which is not surprising considering that 24% of households subscribe to at least three services according to the study. Interestingly, more than half choose a streaming service based on price, while only a third consider content library.
But the truth is, once you’ve subscribed and become hooked on a favorite show like Stranger Things or House of the Dragon, you’re less likely to give it up, even with those incremental gains.
HBOMax, Netflix, and Parmount+ all know this. That’s why they put out so many shows hoping to hook you. At least HBOMax can keep you around longer by extending the release of shows by weeks or even months. But to produce all the must-see content, they need millions, if not billions, of dollars. That’s why they all turn to us for more and more money.
The ad layer won’t save us
There are and will be more options. You can save money by signing up for ad-supported streaming services like Netflix with ads. It’s cheaper, but all your favorite shows will be interrupted by commercials, just like the cable and radio shows you’re trying to give up.
One school of thought holds that the existence of these ad-supported tiers is exactly why premium streaming subscriptions are more expensive. A company like Netflix can say, sure, we demand more from our top-tier service, but we’re now making it affordable for everyone — as long as you don’t mind a few commercials.
HBOMax does have a $9.99 ad tier (launching June 2022). However, if you want to watch the ad-free version of the already acclaimed The Last of Us series, you will need to pay more.
In fact, it’s the only sure thing about the future of the streaming service. If you want high-quality ad-free content, you’ll pay more. Bundles that sell three or four streaming services and get a small discount might be the answer, but we’re not back to cable bundles again, where we end up with a lot of content we didn’t want in the first place.
Correction 1-12-2023: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that HBO Max does not have an advertising layer.