HBO Max AVOD Version Already Has $80 Million in Upfront Advertising Deals, WarnerMedia CEO Says

The ad-supported version of HBO Max, set to launch in June 2021, already has $80 million in upfront advertising commitments, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said.

Kilar, speaking Friday at AT&T’s analyst and investor day presentation, didn’t reveal key details of the HBO Max AVOD tier like pricing and ad load.

In terms of content, the only difference between the ad-supported HBO Max and the regular $14.99-per-month premium service is that the the AVOD tier will not include the day-and-date Warner Bros. movie premieres, Kilar said —  otherwise, “everything else will be the same.”

In addition, the HBO Max AVOD version will not include advertising in HBO original series.

According to Kilar, WarnerMedia estimates that HBO Max is currently the No. 2 revenue-generating SVOD service worldwide (after Netflix). At the end of 2020, WarnerMedia reported 17.2 million HBO Max activated accounts, which implies an annual run rate of $3 billion.

“The biggest reason I feel strongly about the prospects of HBO Max… is because of the stories we get to tell,” Kilar said, predicting the streamer will be among the top three global direct-to-consumer services in the market.

A major driver for HBO Max in 2021 is expected to be its day-and-date release of the 18 films on Warner Bros.’s slate at the same time as theaters, including the upcoming “Godzilla vs. Kong” (March 31), Kilar said — however, at this point, WarnerMedia hasn’t said what its theatrical windowing plan is for 2022. The WarnerMedia exec also cited HBO Max’s expanded investment in kids and family programming.

On the DC front, in addition to the March 18 premiere of the four-hour “Zach Snyder’s Justice League” (aka the “Synder Cut”) the company has two dozen projects from the DC Universe in the works. Kilar also touted WarnerMedia’s franchises including HBO’s Game of Thrones and the Harry Potter films.

AT&T expects HBO Max’s AVOD tier to help boost overall HBO Max/HBO growth in 2021, along with the international expansion of the premium version of HBO Max in 60 Latin American and European markets. The company expects to end the year with between 67 million and 70 million HBO/HBO Max subscribers worldwide, up 10%-15% from the end of 2020.

Kilar also said HBO Max overindexes on younger consumers — with 43% of customers under the age of 35, versus 15% of traditional HBO linear customers. In addition, HBO Max users watch an average of 2.8 hours of programming daily, nearly twice that of 1.5 hours of HBO linear subs.

In a significant upward revision, AT&T said it now expects 120 million-150 million HBO Max and HBO subscribers by the end of 2025, up from the 75 million-90 million it previously projected in the fall of 2019. AT&T expects HBO’s revenue to more than double over the next five years. In 2020, HBO had $6.8 billion in operating revenue — and Kilar expects that to be around $15 billion by 2025.

That expansion does not include major markets including the U.K. and Germany,

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