Legacy subscribers to any sort of digital service are correct to be a bit wary whenever changes come to a platform and they’re told that they can keep their current plan. Because you know the other shoe is going to drop at some point.
And that point is soon for early subscribers to Max’s ad-free plan, which was all you could get in the early days of the now-rebranded HBO Max. Subscribers today are getting emails that point to changes in their ad-free service. It shouldn’t come as a complete surprise, though, since Max originally said the original HBO Max plans and features would be good for at least six months after Max launched. And here were are six months later, with changes taking place.
“On your next billing date,” the email reads, “on or after December 5, 2023, the price of your subscription will stay the same, but some of your features will change. You can still stream all of your favorite blockbuster movies, fresh originals, and iconic series.”
What features are changing, you ask?
After that December date, subscribers to the ad-free tier, which costs $16 a month or $150 a year, will only be able to watch on two devices at once, down from three. And those streams will now be limited to full-HD resolution — no more 4K or Dolby Atmos. You’ll still be able to download up to 30 pieces of content to watch offline, though. So there’s that.
The change basically is a win-win for Max, provided that you don’t cancel. You might be tempted to go down to the tier with advertising, which has the same neutered features, but for just $10 a month or $100 a year (plus, ya know, ads) .Or you might be willing to buy up to the “Ultimate ad-free” plan at $20 a month or $200 a year and keep 4K content and Dolby Atmos for audio. In those examples, Max would either get more revenue from your subscription outright, or from the advertising revenue, which might well be worth more than any of the paid plans. (Netflix, for instance, has flat-out said that customers on its tier with advertising are worth more between the subscription fees and ad revenue.)
No word yet on what this might mean for those whose ad-free subscription is being comped by AT&T, which used to own Warner Bros., which used to own HBO before everything merged into Warner Bros. Discovery.
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