HBO Max, which debuted in May 2020, is getting its first-ever price hike.
Effective immediately, the ad-free HBO Max plan will be $15.99 per month — an increase of $1. That’s 50 cents more than Netflix’s standard plan, which costs $15.49 per month. HBO Max with ads, which launched in June 2022, remains the same at $9.99 per month.
“This price increase of one dollar will allow us to continue to invest in providing even more culture-defining programming and improving our customer experience for all users,” the company said in a statement. Current subscribers service will pay more in their next billing cycle on or after February 11.
The price hikes come at a rocky time for the streaming platform and Warner Bros. Discovery, which also owns CNN.
HBO Max caught the ire of some of its subscribers for pulling numerous shows from the service, such as “Westworld” and “Raised by Wolves,” in recent months to cut costs. Streaming services still must pay residuals to casts and crews of a production, and those costs pile up. HBO Max will save “north of $100 million annually” after removing the shows, according to a source familiar with HBO’s decision.
Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav previously promised investors that he would find more than $3 billion in savings in the combined organization. Every division — including CNN — experienced layoffs and cost cutting late last year.
The company also plans to merge HBO Max with Discovery+ later this year, although a name and pricing structure have yet to be revealed. Warner Bros. Discovery doesn’t break out the number of subscribers on the platform, but it currently has nearly 95 million global subscribers with HBO, HBO Max and Discovery+ combined.
Thursday’s price hike shouldn’t come as a surprise: Gunnar Weidenfels, Warner Bros. Discovery’s chief financial officer, said at an investor conference last week that “there’s no doubt that these products are priced way too low,” referencing streaming platforms.
“We’re coming from an irrational time of overspending with very limited focus on return on investment, and I think others are going to have to make some adjustments that we frankly have behind us now,” he said, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Separately, the price of Discovery+ remains the same, at $6.99 per month without ads.