HBO MAX $14.99 May 2020

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by trip1eX, Oct 29, 2019.

  1. trip1eX

    trip1eX imo, afaik, feels like to me, *exceptions, ~aprox

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    HBO plus more. Same price.

    Only details I gleaned so far were Southpark, Ric& Morty, 10,000 hrs of old content from Time Warner, and 50 new HBO Max shows by 2021. Also seem to remember reruns of Friends or something being a part of this.

    in 2021 they will add an ad-supported version to the mix.

    So the proposition to HBO customers today is for no money extra you can get a lot more content. :)
     
  2. mattack

    mattack Well-Known Member

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    Does that mean south park exits Hulu? If so, I guess I have to catch up by then (though I do currently have HBO too).
     
  3. realityboy

    realityboy Well-Known Member

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    HBO is included with my cable package at Spectrum so that’s not really true for me without a change.
     
  4. humbb

    humbb Active Member

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    The article I read in the Wall Street Journal said "The new service will be free for existing HBO subscribers."
     
  5. cwoody222

    cwoody222 Well-Known Member

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    Not exactly.

    041D37F7-5B87-4F0D-A662-08DE8CB5B0EC.jpeg
     
  6. realityboy

    realityboy Well-Known Member

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    Currently, they’ve only confirmed that for HBO subscribers that also have AT&T.
     
  7. gary.buhrmaster

    gary.buhrmaster Active Member

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    As of June 2020, HBO Max will be the exclusive streaming distributor in the US for South Park.

    Each of the new streaming platforms is trying to lock up content exclusively to become one of the "must have" parts of your content streaming solution. For some, that will mean needing half a dozen streaming platform subscriptions in order to get what they think they want.
     
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  8. humbb

    humbb Active Member

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    So the WSJ updated their article at 11pm ET last night with an ambiguous double-down on the issue:
    And then this in the last paragraph:
    My take is that AT&T wants Max to be free to all pay-TV HBO subs (which is consistent with this USA Today article quoting HBO Max exec Tony Goncalves), but that it is up to each distributor to decide whether they want to authorize and on which devices (similar to HBO Go). As an Xfinity customer, I'm hoping it will be available and free on my Roku (and it's hard to imagine that TiVo will have an HBO Max app at all).
     
  9. PSU_Sudzi

    PSU_Sudzi Well-Known Member

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    I can totally see Comcast giving subscribers the shaft on this. Shorts up and all.
     
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  10. gary.buhrmaster

    gary.buhrmaster Active Member

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    The real question is whether the prices to the distributor will be different for Max vs the existing Go (something we will never know, and AT&T will never share). If AT&T increases their ask ("there is more value here now!"), some distributors may very well take a pass. And that will mean that by observation of what happens next, if some of the larger distributors do take a pass, that likely means the T&Cs changed.
     
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  11. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Yup. AT&T will almost certainly demand that their cable distributor partners pay them a higher wholesale price for HBO Max versus traditional HBO. Otherwise, why bother spending all that money on additional content for HBO Max, including those new Max Originals?

    I've read that HBO has about 35 million US subs, with about 8 million of them via a streaming subscription. (The citation said 8 million on HBO Now, although I think it really meant 8 million via any streaming distributor, including Prime Video Channels, Hulu, etc., most of whom also will authenticate usage of the HBO Now app too.) About 10 million current HBO subs get it directly through AT&T in some form or fashion -- mainly DirecTV and Uverse TV, although some get it bundled with AT&T Wireless, or AT&T TV Now, or via HBO Now if they signed up at that website so that billing goes through AT&T rather than an app store. Anyhow, the total between those two groups (8 and 10 million) might be about 15 million subs, which would leave at 20 million US HBO subs who get it via a traditional pay TV distributor other than AT&T, e.g. Comcast, Charter, Verizon, Cox, Altice, etc. So that's over half -- 57% -- of the current HBO subscriber base.

    AT&T is reportedly negotiating right now with all those distributors to sell their customers HBO Max instead of HBO, per their existing contracts. The risk for those cable companies is that if they don't, their customers may just cancel their existing HBO subscriptions through them and go directly to HBO Max in order to pay the same $15/mo charge and get a lot more content. But that would mean having to use a separate app on a different device than their cable box, which would be a turn-off for some folks. And some cable subscribers get HBO as part of a bigger channel package that includes all the basic channels too. (Although Comcast is phasing such packages out and shifting to a new system in which all premium services are a la carte add-ons.)

    One professional industry analyst wrote awhile back that the average wholesale price per subscriber that HBO receives from their traditional pay TV distribution partners is only about $7.65/mo. My guess is that they're asking for a significantly higher price for HBO Max. In return, I'm sure AT&T will offer a version of the HBO Max app that can run on the modern cable box platforms, such as Comcast and Cox's X1 and Altice's AlticeOne. It'll be interesting to see if they also allow cable distributors to ingest the entire HBO Max library into their own native on-demand platforms, the way they're allowed to do with the regular HBO library.

    It'll also be interesting to see whether AT&T allows sign-ups for HBO Max inside that app, the way they've done so far with HBO Now. If they do, that will mean giving a significant cut (20%?) to the app store operators (Apple, Google, Roku, Amazon). Netflix has phased that practice out. Existing Netflix subs who signed up that way can still be billed via the app store but new Netflix subscribers cannot sign up in the app; they must go to Netflix.com and let Netflix do the billing, thereby allowing Netflix to take the full amount. If they advertise HBO Max substantially (and they will), then it's hard to imagine that many cord-cutters will continue to pay $15/mo for regular HBO through their current arrangement (regardless of the app they watch in: HBO Now, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV app, or Roku Channel). Those subscriptions can be cancelled any time, so most of those folks will just cancel and re-sign up via HBO Max. Not any harder to do that at HBOMax.com than inside the HBO Max app, really.
     
  12. realityboy

    realityboy Well-Known Member

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    From a new WSJ article today:

    I can’t see Spectrum offering HBO MAX as long as HBO remains part of their Silver and Gold packages.
     
  13. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Who knows. Maybe they switch out HBO for HBO Max in Silver and Gold and bump up the prices of each by an extra $3/month (beyond however much those packages will go up in 2020 anyhow).

    Or maybe Spectrum follows in Comcast's footsteps and revamps their packages so that going forward, the base packages don't include any premiums. If you want them, you add them a la carte, and HBO Max will be the only HBO option they sell that way. But perhaps existing subscribers would be grandfathered in on their current Silver or Gold package and would keep regular HBO and access to the HBO Go app. If those customers decide they want HBO Max, they'd need to drop Silver/Gold and switch over to a new package and add HBO Max separately.

    I also notice that both the Silver and Gold packages include Cinemax (as well as Showtime) in addition to HBO. It's still an open question as to what will happen with Cinemax after HBO Max launches. The WSJ leaked info this summer that HBO Max would include Cinemax content in its library, although AT&T has officially stated nothing about Cinemax with regard to HBO Max. I still tend to believe that Cinemax will cease to exist in 2020 and simply get absorbed into HBO Max, which appears to be WarnerMedia's all-or-nothing bet on the future of subscription video. If that proves true, then it would be an easy switch-out for Spectrum's Silver and Gold packages -- replace both HBO and Cinemax with the new HBO Max and pay the same wholesale price.

    Lots of possibilities...
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2019
  14. realityboy

    realityboy Well-Known Member

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    True. Lots of possibilities. I just wish AT&T had worked this out beforehand. My cynical guess for Spectrum is that they’ll drop HBO from those packages while leaving the price the same, then allow an add on of HBO MAX for $15.
     
  15. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Nah. I'd say the worst-case scenario is that Charter and AT&T can't come to a renegotiated deal to include HBO Max, which means that their current deal stays in place until it runs out at some point in the next few years, with regular HBO remaining in Spectrum Silver and Gold. Neither side wants to see HBO completely dropped.

    Now, regardless of their current contract, I don't think there's any way that Charter (or any other operator) could force AT&T to continue operating Cinemax if they decided to shut it down. So I guess the actual worst-case scenario would be that Cinemax shuts down, meaning that the wholesale price that Charter pays AT&T for each subscriber in Silver and Gold decreases by a few bucks, but rather than passing those savings on to their customers, Charter just holds prices at the same level. In which case, you're paying the same amount but getting less content. (BTW, Comcast removed Cinemax from their top-end Digital Premier bundle this summer while holding the same price. They replaced Cinemax with their own on-demand movie package called Hitz, which is apparently a pretty poor substitute.)
     
  16. realityboy

    realityboy Well-Known Member

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    Spectrum removed Cinemax from their bundles recently as well. No replacement though.
     
  17. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Oh. Interesting. I really do think I'm correct in my hunch that Cinemax will quietly be killed after HBO Max launches. I think these moves by Comcast and Charter to remove Cinemax from their channel packages that included both HBO and Cinemax, but without lowering the prices on those packages, is because they plan to replace HBO and Cinemax with HBO Max. I'd bet that those two companies were probably giving $10-11 per month to Warner for HBO and Cinemax together among those customers who were getting it as part of bundled packages like Charter's Silver and Gold and Comcast's Digital Premier. I could see Warner selling them HBO Max in place of HBO and Cinemax for about that same wholesale rate, $10-11/mo, regardless of how their customers subscribe, whether a la carte or via a bundled package.

    If Cinemax does get killed, that would kinda suck for cable operators because it would be one less premium that they could sell a la carte at what I imagine is a pretty high profit margin for them, given that Cinemax typically sells by cable operators for $10-12/mo. And given that AT&T is going to sell HBO Max directly as a standalone service for just $15, it's not like cable operators could sell HBO Max a la carte to their customers for $20 in order to recoup some of the lost profits from Cinemax.

    My guess is that we'll see Comcast and Charter swap out HBO and Cinemax for HBO Max in their bundled packages for no price increase. They'll cease selling HBO as an a la carte for the current $15 price and replace it with a la carte HBO Max for maybe $16. It's typical to pay a buck or two more for the convenience of having a premium service integrated into your cable box and bill as opposed to having to access and pay for it separately. For instance, you can get Showtime directly from them via the Showtime app for $11/mo but Comcast charges $12/mo to add it to their cable TV service.
     
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  18. chiguy50

    chiguy50 Well-Known Member

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    As I recall, you forecast that HBO Max would retail at $17 to differentiate it from vanilla HBO and in recognition of the expanded content.

    But given the reported launch price of $15, what are the odds that AT&T plans to phase out plain vanilla HBO altogether in favor of HBO Max? After all, unless the reported $15 price is just a teaser, what is the rationale for keeping the lesser HBO around? What will HBO offer that isn't contained in HBO Max?
     
  19. Tony_T

    Tony_T Well-Known Member

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  20. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I think I was saying $16 for HBO Max bought directly from them, or maybe $17 bought through cable operator distributors (although the actual price would be up to individual distributors and could vary).

    But to answer your question, I'm still sticking with the longer-term prediction I made, which is that regular HBO gets phased out over the next few years and completely replaced by HBO Max. Because there really isn't any rationale for keeping the original HBO product around if you're getting over twice as much content in HBO Max for the same price. As AT&T's CEO said, it's kind of an "IQ test" for consumers (i.e. only dummies wouldn't switch over from regular HBO to HBO Max).

    I'll copy and paste in here the relevant bits from my predictions thread about HBO Max with my current thoughts/corrections inserted in green:

    1Q 2020: HBO Max launches (excerpt)
    Some major cable operators announce that they will cease selling new subscriptions to the traditional HBO service (typically at $15 a la carte) and will instead begin selling HBO Max, with some pricing it at $17 and others at $16. All their existing HBO subscribers, however, would be given the option of staying on the traditional service at current pricing. (I now tend to think that if a cable operator amends their existing distribution deal with HBO, they'll simply stop selling regular HBO completely and switch over all their existing HBO subs to HBO Max, either at the same price or for $1-2 more.) Meanwhile, other cable operators declined to distribute HBO Max and said that they would continue selling only traditional HBO, with one cable operator immediately announcing a new lower $13/mo price point for it. Traditional HBO continues to be sold as a standalone direct-to-consumer service via HBO Now, as well as through streaming platforms such as Prime Video Channels, Apple TV Channels, and The Roku Channel.

    3Q 2020: HBO Max adds live cable bundles
    HBO Max begins offering add-on bundles of live cable TV channels, the same ones sold under the AT&T TV brand. While the AT&T TV app offers a more traditional cable box-like UI with a grid guide, etc., the HBO Max app has a more next-gen streaming UI akin to Hulu and Netflix. (They're currently targeting this addition for 2021, so I was at least a couple quarters early in my prediction. Otherwise, I stand by it for now.)

    4Q 2020: HBO Max introduces lower-priced plan with ads
    HBO Max announces that their standard plan will remain ad-free at $16, but they will also offer a new $10 plan with targeted limited ads. (The standard ad-free plan will be $15, not $16. Perhaps that means the plan with limited ads will also come in for a bit cheaper than I predicted at $10? Also, they announced that this plan won't come out until 2021, so again, I was a bit early.) It will include all of the same content, including in 4K HDR. While HBO-branded originals, as well as most children’s programming and theatrical films, will remain ad-free, all other content (e.g. Max Originals; series from WarnerMedia basic cable channels such as TBS, TNT, and CNN; and past TV series from the Warner Bros. library) will contain ads. The new $10 plan only allows two simultaneous streams.

    4Q 2020: HBO Now shuts down
    WarnerMedia assured the public when they introduced HBO Max in early 2020 that the traditional HBO service would continue to be available through many cable providers, as well as directly from Warner through their own HBO Now service. But given that HBO Now remained priced at $15 while HBO Max was available as a standalone service direct from Warner for just $1 more (nope, HBO Max is going to be the same price as HBO Now, $15!), but with a lot more content (and marketing power behind it), the subscriber base for HBO Now plummeted, as Warner desired, with the vast majority migrating over to HBO Max.

    So on Dec.1, HBO Now notified its subscribers that the service would shut down at year-end, with all existing accounts automatically converting over to HBO Max at the same $15/mo price for the first month, before increasing to the standard $16 price thereafter. Those who wish to stay on the service need not do anything; the HBO Now app on all their devices should automatically update to the HBO Max app on Jan. 1, with their current logins carrying over.

    (Actually, they've announced that those HBO Now subscribers whose credit cards are billed directly by HBO/AT&T will automatically gain access to the HBO Max app when it launches, likely using the same login credentials. But the majority of HBO Now subscribers are billed through Apple, Google, Amazon or Roku, because they signed up inside the app downloaded from their app stores, and it remains to be seen if they'll get automatically converted to HBO Max. AT&T pays those distributors a commission out of the $15 monthly HBO Now fee they bill and I'm wondering at this point if that means that AT&T is considering not doing that for HBO Max. They might do what Netflix began doing around a year ago -- don't allow sign-ups inside the app. Instead, force customers to sign up on your own website so that you do the billing and can keep the entire monthly subscription fee. We'll see. My prediction that HBO Now shuts down at the end of 2020 could be premature if that's what happens. Perhaps we simply see them no longer allowing new sign-ups for HBO Now, only for HBO Max. But existing HBO Now subscribers who are billed by an app store (Apple, Amazon, etc.) might be allowed to stay on that app/service on into 2021 to give them plenty of time to self-migrate over to HBO Max, which would require a new sign-up at HBOMax.com, allowing AT&T to retain the full $15 monthly fee.)

    A month earlier, on Nov. 1, HBO’s digital distribution platform partners, such as Prime Video Channels, Apple TV Channels, The Roku Channel and Hulu, had notified their customers that HBO would cease to be available through them as of Dec. 31. Customers were instead directed to the HBO Max app for continued access to HBO programming. (There are probably 4-5 million HBO subscriptions of this type. It would be a pretty gutsy move for AT&T to simply cut them off and say, "If you still want streaming HBO, you'll need to sign up again at HBOMax.com and watch us in a different app than you were using before!" But hey, it was also gutsy for them to walk away from the negotiating table with DISH, resulting in HBO and Cinemax getting pulled from that entire system in fall 2018. That surely resulted in a few million subscription cancellations at the time. I still like the idea of HBO ceasing to distribute through these rival streaming platforms because, ultimately, they want all HBO streaming to happen through their own HBO Max app, where they control the UI, collect the usage data, and have a direct relationship/line of communication (email/text) with the customer. While they're definitely going to try to amend their current HBO distribution deals with the big cable operators like Comcast, Charter, Cox, etc. to sell HBO Max instead, I'll be surprised if they do the same with Prime Video Channels, Hulu, etc. I can't see them letting any of those apps offer all the additional content that HBO Max will offer beyond traditional HBO. I think the rule here is "WWND" -- What would Netflix do? Netflix does have deals in place with major cable and satellite MVPDs to distribute their service (with at least some amount of UI integration allowed on their set-top boxes) but they would never allow Netflix to be sold and distributed inside a competing streaming app like Prime Video or Hulu. I don't think HBO Max will either. So may as well kill that streaming distribution model for regular HBO too and try to shift those folks over to HBO Max.)

    4Q 2022: HBO ceases to exist as a standalone service
    HBO’s final legacy distribution contract with a major cable operator expires, after which the operator is given no choice but to distribute HBO Max if they wish to distribute any channels or services at all from WarnerMedia. For the preceding two years, HBO (and its associated HBO Go app) had continued to be available as an option from a dwindling number of cable and telco operators around the country. Some had preemptively struck a new distribution deal with Warner to instead distribute HBO Max rather than HBO while others had waited it out, remaining on their existing contracts that allowed them to distribute only HBO. Most of those, though, had felt the need to cut the price of HBO as an a la carte option down from $15 to about $12-13 per month due to competition from HBO Max as a much larger standalone service priced at just $16. (Again, HBO Max will be priced at $15, not $16, as a standalone streaming service. Beyond that, I think this prediction is still plausible, although it may very well be that it doesn't take all the way until late 2022 for this to happen. Will there really even be any significant MVPDs that hold out against switching over from HBO to HBO Max?)
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2019
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