London: HBO Max introduced its first price increase since the service was launched nearly three years ago, the latest sign that the grow-at-all-costs era of the streaming business is ending.
The cost of HBO Max without commercials will rise almost 7 per cent to $15.99 a month from $14.99 starting Thursday, the streaming service’s owner, Warner Bros. Discovery Inc., said in a statement. That makes the product slightly more costly than Netflix’s standard, $15.49-a-month plan. Both companies now offer cheaper ad-supported tiers.
The increase “will allow us to continue to invest in providing even more culture-defining programing and improving our customer experience for all users,” the company said.
HBO Max, an online extension of the company’s HBO cable channel but with more content, launched in May 2020.
The company plans to introduce a new streaming service this spring that combines HBO Max, home of scripted dramas including Succession, with Discovery+, which airs unscripted lifestyle programming, such as Love It or List It.
After years of focusing on subscriber growth, media companies now face pressure from Wall Street to find a path to profitability in streaming.
At an investor conference last week, Gunnar Wiedenfels, the chief financial officer of Warner Bros Discovery, said streaming services “are priced way too low.”
“There was this partly capital market-fueled phase of land grabbing, you couldn’t lose enough money and couldn’t grow subscribers fast enough,” he said. “I think that’s behind us.”