How is HBO Promoting Max?

Even without a marquee live program like Game of Thrones to bank on, HBO is gambling that customers are ready to officially cut the cord and pay them directly to stream their content. The premium cable network recently announced a release date for its HBO Max streaming service on May 27. Given that, at $14.99 a month, the price tag is more expensive than competitors like Disney+, Hulu, and Netflix, it’s clear the brand believes it still has enough to entice viewers.

So, what can streamers expect from HBO’s new service? Early press reports offer a varied lineup of WarnerMedia brands including Friends, Looney Tunes, Sesame Street, as well as new “Max Original” series for both adults and kids.

Some viewers are asking if that’s all. WarnerMedia says “no.” In fact, the company recently told the press AT&T, which it owns, is planning to invest about $2 billion in programming and promotions for HBO Max over the next two years. WarnerMedia Chairman Robert Greenblatt, told the press: “Our number one goal is having extraordinary content for everyone in the family, and the HBO Max programming mix we are so excited to unveil on May 27 will bear this out…”

With the coronavirus forcing millions to stay at home, streaming demand is way up, which means this may be a great time to get into the market. But finding market space will be a challenge. Netflix stock is through the roof, and Disney+ plus is seeing a major surge in subscribers. HBO clearly believes they can compete with these streaming titans head to head. Greenblatt said: “The all-star teams behind every aspect of HBO Max will deliver a platform and a robust slate of content that is varied, of the highest quality, and second to none…”

That’s a strong, positive message that, ultimately, will be left up to the streaming consumer. The big question right now, is what will HBO use to entice people to give the service a try? Will they give them a trial period for a free or reduced price, or are they banking on big-name programs to get people to switch over?

At this point, the jury is still out on that one. The company has about a month to bring out the big guns and show consumers the “varied high-quality” content on offer for nearly fifteen bucks a month. There’s no doubt people are willing to pay for streaming content, as long as it’s high quality, but it will need to be as good or better than what’s already out there.

One factor HBO is banking on is exclusivity. The company has already said some programming, even classic sitcoms, will stream exclusively on HBO Max, even those that have previously been available on other platforms. That could be a big win for the company, if viewers find a show they care enough about. So, how will they approach this PR challenge? Time will tell, and the clock is ticking.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."

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