Can HBO Max Justify Its Higher Price?

What do you see when you think about premium video platforms? No, I’m not talking about the TV shows/movies. What does its app look like?

It’s really about the “program tiles” -- those little programming squares on your favorite premium streaming app guide. It could be a TV series, like “The Office,” a movie, or a branded-app like WarnerMedia’s HBO Max.

A new TV commercial from HBO Max goes to the heart of this matter. Showing lots of “tiles” (or titles) with a black background screen -- kind of what you'd see if you were actually using its app.

Think of tiles as a relatively new promotional place for entertainment: Shows in squares (or rectangles) -- “Game of Thrones,” “Friends,” "The Wizard of Oz,” “Westworld,” “Big Bang Theory”-- from legendary Warner Bros. TV/movie studio.



The TV commercial shows the HBO Max square and a finger pressing that button -- like on a mobile app.

“Tons of trusted recommendation” says the spot, And then suggestions: “Your Rom-Com Marathon,” which features “Crazy Rich Asians and “Crazy Stupid Love.” (Perhaps this should have been called ‘Your Crazy Rom Com’ marathon.)

At the end of the spot -- more titles -- seemingly thousands being scrolled up on a screen moving quickly. We get the idea.

Disclaimer, while the scroll goes: “Not all titles available at launch.”  So it’s not perfect.

And considering all complaints over HBO Max’s price, maybe there needs to be more clarity here, as well.

For example, HBO Max carries a $14.99 price tag -- double that of Disney+, three times Apple TV+, and a bit higher than the most popular option on Netflix, the well-positioned dominant streaming player.

We get HBO Max -- by way of Warner Bros. -- has produced massive amounts of big TV/movie content for decades, long before Netflix arrived. We are guessing senior WarnerMedia marketing executives believe this depth of its volume tells a better story.

Trouble is, not all young TV/movie consumers understand this connection to entertainment history. HBO Max wants to maintain its big price tag, which is around the same monthly price as the monthly HBO premium TV package of networks.

But some younger TV consumers -- those more digital savvy TV consumers -- may just shrug their shoulders. They may have never had HBO while growing up, nor really wanted it.

Fantasy TV worlds -- from the future and the past aside -- HBO Max needs to be, like Disney and Apple, more aggressive in realizing where the market is right now.

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