AT&T’s HBO Max has lofty ambitions but so do its rivals

Following yesterday’s news (Tuesday 29 October) that AT&T’s WarnerMedia group will launch HBO Max in May 2020 at a price of $14.99 per month, Tammy Parker, Senior Technology Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers her view on the new service’s challenges:

“AT&T is positioning HBO Max as a premium streaming video service that is chock full of content designed to appeal to the entire family, which is necessary for HBO Max to meet the ambitious subscriber and financial goals that AT&T has set for it.

“HBO Max will have some distinct advantages, including the much-vaunted HBO name and programming legacy as well as multilayer marketing efforts that will include 170 million direct customer relationships across AT&T’s wireless, broadband and pay-TV operations and 200 million more across its digital properties including cnn.com and Otter Media.

“Yet the growing complexity of the digital entertainment marketplace means there are plenty of competitive landmines for both new and incumbent competitors. Despite differences between the value propositions of HBO Max and other forthcoming new entrants such as Apple TV+ and Disney+, competitors are all ultimately chasing consumer dollars with similar value propositions. The same goes for incumbent services such as Netflix and Hulu.

“Things are only going to get more challenging in the increasingly multifaceted universe of digital entertainment. Growing competition and high content costs mean not every new entrant in the expanding streaming video landscape is going to survive and thrive.

“It’s notable that on the same day AT&T finally released its HBO Max plans, Sony said it intends to shutter its struggling PlayStation Vue service. The two services are different, with PlayStation Vue being a virtual pay-TV provider, but they face many of the same competitive factors. All video streaming services are battling for consumer screen time, as are the myriad of other digital diversions, including online gaming.”

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