HBO Max Raises Price for Ad-Free Service for the First Time Since It Launched

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  • The price of streaming service HBO Max's ad-free tier is increasing to $15.99 from $14.99, the first price hike since it was launched in 2020.
  • Warner Bros. Discovery, the merged company that now runs HBO Max, plans to merge Warner's streaming service with Discovery+ this spring.
  • The company said the increase will allow it to invest in its content and user experience.

Warner Bros. Discovery is raising the monthly price of HBO Max by $1 as the company looks to further invest in content and the user experience.

The company said Thursday the HBO Max ad-free tier's price would increase to $15.99 a month from $14.99, the first price increase for HBO Max since it launched in May 2020. The rate hike will be effective for existing subscribers in their next billing cycle, or on Feb. 11.

The price hike comes ahead of Warner Bros. Discovery spring 2023 launch of its combined HBO Max and Discovery+ streaming service. The merged platform is set to be named Max.

Warner Bros. Discovery executives have said there's room to grow when it comes to the price of streaming services, and the company aims to make its streaming business profitable in the near future.

"There's no doubt that these products are priced way too low," said Warner Bros. Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels during a conference earlier this month. "And I think this was partly the capital market fueled phase of land grabbing. You couldn't lose enough money and couldn't grow subscribers fast enough. I think that's behind us."

The company has been cutting back on costs, such as spending on HBO Max's original series, as it looks to make streaming profitable. It is also tending to a heavy debt load stemming from Discovery's acquisition of Warner, which closed last year. Warner Bros. Discovery's goal is to notch $1 billion in earnings in streaming by 2025.

The company has also been working to improve the user experience, while rebuilding the entire app.

"We're going to come out with a great product from a consumer experience perspective and that's frankly the biggest holdback for HBO Max right now. The experience is not where it needs to be," Wiedenfels said at the conference this month.

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