HBO Max Boasts It Will Have Fewest Ads Among Streaming Services

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The streaming wars have a new form of bragging rights: Who’s showing the fewest ads.

HBO Max said Wednesday it will limit commercials on its new ad-supported tier to four minutes each hour, betting it can both generate advertising revenue and avoid offending subscribers with too many breaks.

AT&T Inc.’s flagship platform will offer “the lowest commercial ad load in the streaming industry,” HBO Max said in a statement. Other streaming services, like Comcast Corp.’s Peacock and Discovery Inc.’s Discovery+, have said they will show five minutes of ads per hour or less.

HBO’s ad-supported tier launches Wednesday and costs $9.99 a month. A version without commercials costs $14.99 a month. Subscribers can also get a discount by paying for a year upfront, a move designed to lock in subscribers and avoid people dropping the service after a few months.

The two versions of HBO Max have a few key differences. The ad-supported tier won’t have Warner Bros. films that are debuting on HBO Max this year on the same day they arrive in theaters. And subscribers to the ad-supported version won’t be able download shows for offline viewing. In one area of similarity, there won’t be ads during HBO original shows.

HBO Max is wading into a crowded field of streaming services that are all trying to capture streaming viewers and, in some cases, ad dollars. Netflix Inc., the world’s largest paid streaming service, doesn’t show commercials. AT&T agreed last month to merge its WarnerMedia division with Discovery, creating a new publicly traded company to be called Warner Bros. Discovery.

AT&T has been counting on the lower-cost ad-supported option to broaden the appeal of HBO Max. At $15 a month, it has been one of the pricier streaming services. Netflix’s most popular offering costs $14 in the U.S., and Walt Disney Co.’s main streaming option is just $8.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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