HBO Max chief not worried about its $15 subscription price

 marketwatch.com  01/16/2020 15:36:05   Associated Press

PASADENA, Calif. (AP)  HBO Maxs high-end subscription fee wont be an obstacle to the streaming services launch, said Kevin Reilly, its chief content officer.

People do not shop for their entertainment experiences with price being the primary motivation, Reilly told a TV critics meeting Wednesday. People dont say, Id love to go to this concert, I dont really want to go to this one as much. But its cheaper, so I guess Ill go to that one.

Beyond the existing customers expected to convert from $15-a-month HBO to HBO Max upon its May launch, there is a deep pool of potential subscribers that could yield a substantial number more, he said. Viewers unable or reluctant to pay that fee can look to a lower-priced iteration in the future, he said.

The company previously said it plans to launch a version of HBO Max with ads in 2021.

Reillys overview of the service included recounting his test drive of it over the holidays, jumping from HBOs Watchmen to the first two episodes of Warner-produced chestnut Friends to movies and cartoons. The varied list reflects the services roots in AT&Ts T, +0.48% $81 billion purchase of Time Warner, (renamed Warner Media), a move intended to safeguard its video business as cord-cutting grows.

Fees for other new streamers include $5 for Apple AAPL, +0.65% TV Plus and $7 for Disney DIS, +0.47% while established services including Hulu, Netflix NFLX, -0.45% and Amazon AMZN, +0.59% push into double-digits fees for premium subscriptions.

Reilly pushed back at what has been widely characterized as the streaming wars.

This is not a a zero sum game: I have Netflix. I dont need this. he said. These, again, are all going to be different products where each household is going to be piecing it together, and I think too much is being stated on price upfront.

HBO Max, like other outlets, is scooping up talent to stock its shelves. After striking a five-year deal with filmmaker Adam McKay (The Big Short), the service announced Wednesday that hes writing an anthology series inspired by the best-selling book The Uninhabitable Earth. A three-year deal with filmmaker Steven Soderbergh also was announced.

Even Elmo is getting into the act: the Muppet will welcome a great roster of human guests to his own talk show, said Sarah Aubrey, head of HBO Max original content, who deemed it the most charming thing youll ever see.

This comes as rumors of a TV show Friends reunion have surfaced.

Theres interest all the way around in bringing the stars of the hit sitcom together again, said HBO Max chief content officer Kevin Reilly. And yet we cant seem to quite get that interest sort of all aligned and push the button on it.

So today, unfortunately, its still a maybe, Reilly told a TV critics meeting Wednesday.

Last fall, Jennifer Aniston said there were efforts to make something happen  but definitely not a Friends reboot. That was followed by reports that the cast and producers were in talks for an HBO Max special.

The show, which aired from 1994 to 2004, was a popular rerun staple on Netflix until HBO Max outbid it to become the new Friends streaming home beginning this year. HBO Max launches in May.

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