Warner Bros. Discovery’s new streaming service Max, the replacement for HBO Max, will have similar prices to the older service, with a new premium tier, the company announced Wednesday.
Starting May 23, the Max Ad-Lite tier will cost $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year; Max Ad Free, the plan most similar to the old HBO Max subscription, will cost $15.99 a month or $149.99 a year; and a new Max Ultimate Ad Free tier will cost $19.99 a month or $199.99 a year.
Max Ad Lite will offer subscribers up to two concurrent streams, 1080p resolution, no offline downloads and 5:1 surround sound quality, while Max Ad Free will give 30 offline downloads in addition to the two concurrent streams, 1080p resolution and 5:1 surround sound quality. Max Ultimate Ad Free will offer up to 4 concurrent streams, up to 4K HD resolution, 100 offline downloads and Dolby Atmos sound quality.
The Ultimate Ad-Free tier will have an expanded catalog of content available in 4K UHD including key programming such as “Game of Thrones,” “The Last of Us,” “Harry Potter,” “Lord of the Rings,” “The Dark Knight” trilogy and more. All Warner Bros. movies released this year and going forward will also be available in 4K UHD when they arrive on Max following their theatrical windows.
Existing HBO Max subscribers will have access to Max at the same price as their current subscription and can access their current plan features for a minimum of six months following its launch. HBO Max subscribers’ profiles, settings, watch history, “Continue Watching,” and “My List” items will also migrate to Max, so they can pick up streaming right where they left off.
The service will leverage PayPal as a new payment method and Max will alert customers about failed payment with notifications via multiple on and off product messages, including in-app messages on connected TVs.
Discovery+ will remain as a standalone service costing $4.99 a month with ads or $6.99 a month without ads and its subscribers will remain unaffected by the changes.
“Discovery+ has maintained a sizeable and engaged user base and is a profitable streaming service. So we don’t want to leave any profitable subscribers behind,” WBD’s president and CEO of global streaming and games JB Perrette noted.
In addition to pricing, executives teased several new features and improvements coming to the platform.
A new video playback experience will deliver smooth and cinematic video to users, wherever and however they prefer to watch. Max will also expand personalization beyond just the home page,
offering a differentiated and high-performing experience for every user across the whole service.
At launch, Max will introduce a default kids profile for new subscribers along with accompanying parental controls. Parents can choose to customize settings and select to limit content for the kids profile by
ratings: little kids (TV-Y), big kids (TV-Y7, TV-Y7-FV), big kids plus (TV-G, G), preteens (TV-PG/PG), or teens (TV-14, PG-13). Parents will also have the ability to set individual profile PINs to lock access to their adult profiles, as well as a parent code to lock their children inside of the Max kids experience.
App start times, video start times and the general navigation response times will be 20% to 30% faster depending on which device you’re using.
The relaunch comes as the entertainment giant has been undergoing a major restructuring, which it expects to complete by the end of 2024. WBD estimates the moves, including layoffs and other cost cuts, will result in up to $5.3 billion in restructuring charges before taxes, including up to $3.5 billion in content impairment and development write-offs.
“All these enhancements will deliver a stronger experience for our customers and kick off the beginning of a very productive flywheel,” Perrette added. “More engagement drives better retention, which reduces churn improves customer satisfaction, all of which will ultimately help us continue to scale our subscribers.”
As of the end of 2022, Warner Bros. Discovery had a total of 96.1 million direct-to-consumer subscribers across HBO Max and Discovery+.