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HBO Max Launching Cheaper, Ad-Supported Version


Your cost-benefit analysis begins NOW.

Timothee Chalamet in Dune

Has the $15-a-month price point prevented you from hopping aboard the HBO Max train, even though the streaming service boasts a robust catalog of goodies and a bunch of brand new Warner Bros. feature films the day they’re released? I hear you, and I respect you; thriftiness is one of my very favorite qualities. Lucky for you, per CNET, a cheaper HBO Max tier is coming in June. But while the exact price point has not been revealed, there are already some catches to reckon with — one which feels much larger than the other.

RELATED: ‘Batgirl’ and ‘Zatanna’ Projects Confirmed for HBO Max by Warner Bros.

For one, this cheaper version of HBO Max will be supported and interrupted by ads, in a move similar to the commercial-filled versions of Hulu . However, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar revealed that this plan won’t feature ads spliced into HBO library content, since they weren’t produced with ad breaks to begin with. I’d bet you can expect front-end packages of ads running before shows like The Sopranos or Euphoria in this package, and I’d bet you can expect ads spliced in between original HBO Max content like Search Party or even Zack Snyder’s Justice League. An ad-based streaming service has never bothered me too much; I even find it somewhat comforting when watching television.

But the second catch for this new pricing tier is bigger. And not just because it’ll stop you from watching a movie about big creatures battling each other.

Image via Warner Bros.

Under this cheaper, ad-supported plan, the same-day releases of Warner Bros. feature films (remember, WB is releasing their entire 2021 film slate on the regular version of HBO Max) will not be available. That means if you want to save a buck and don’t mind ads, you’ll have to suffer not being able to watch big films like Godzilla vs. KongMortal KombatThe Suicide Squad, or Dune on their release dates; those will only be available in the full $15-a-month version.

In a way, HBO Max is now taking the idea of Disney+’s “Premier Access” system of watching new content and expanding it out to an entire tier. You can vibe with the cheaper, ad-supported version of the service, sure. But if you want “premiere access” to the biggest films everyone will be talking about, you gotta pay premiere prices. I get this move as an incentive to get consumers to sign up for the premium version over the ad-supported versions, though it can’t help but feel like another Kong-sized punch to the gut for an ever-weakening economic consumer base who just lived through a damn pandemic and just wants to watch some damn movies. Also — will this split audiences even further, stopping potential audiences from watching the big WB movies any way they can, and further alienating WB’s talent pool? Hmm…

This cheaper, ad-supported version of HBO Max will be available in June; we’ll keep you updated as we learn more.

KEEP READING: ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’: 15 Images Provide a Glimpse of the Director’s Original Vision

Listen to Two Very Different Themes for ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ by Composer Tom Holkenborg

The MonsterVerse stars are even battling it out with individual themes.

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