In his first opinion piece for The Convention Collective, Leonid Urevich has thoughts on how the landscape of streaming services will change, in the wake of this weeks HBO Max announcement.
It looks like HBO Max just won the long-fought, long-drawn-out Streaming War.
With cord-cutting becoming a thing and streaming is becoming more mainstream, Netflix keeps raising their rates with confidence knowing people will keep paying the inflated prices. Netflix began as a simple DVD service where you would get DVDs in the mail and pay $5.99 a mouth and get access to any two DVDs a month and keep them as long as you want. And the tiers would go up with more DVDs so if you wanted three DVDs a month, it would cost you 10 bucks. If you wanted Unlimited it would be $12.99, I believe – forgive me if I’m wrong, it was a while ago.
Then they started to implement on demand services and soon after increased the price by 50%. And then divided the company all together, one simply does DVDs by mail and the other simply does streaming. And they have slowly continued increasing their rates by one or two dollars.
Fast forward to today and starting at the end of this month they are increasing the standard plan by $1 per month, from $12.99 to $13.99, and its premium plan by $2 per month, from $15.99 to $17.99. Now you’re probably asking yourself what does this have to do with HBO Max? Well, unlike Netflix, HBO Max is constantly lowering its price and offering promos like the current one where you can get six months of HBO Max for just $69, that’s only $11.50 a month. Now, this article is not sponsored by HBO Max – I am just simply putting facts on a page, haha!
Now sure there are other streaming services out there but I began talking about Netflix because I feel like they were the first so I thought it was only fair I began this article with them. New streaming services are popping in like popcorn but unfortunately, not a lot of people talk about them. Mainly because there’s really not a lot to talk about. Now sure there is a new SAVED BY THE BELL on NBC’s Peacock service, or if you love classic cartoons and Scooby-Doo, there is Boomerang. But neither have the draw – or the bottomless, never-ending wallets – of Netflix, Disney+ or HBO Max, or the budget to match.
Let’s briefly talk about Disney+, so far they only have one marquee show THE MANDALORIAN – and let’s face it, a lot of people are going to unsubscribe the moment the show is over. But even if you don’t, what if you have somebody that doesn’t like sci-fi or animation? What does Disney+ has to offer them? Imagine your older brother or your dad comes to visit who doesn’t like sci-fi or animation: what are you going to show him? National Geographic?
In comes HBO Max with a full slate of new, never before seen by the general public movies for everybody without an additional cost. And cheaper then the standard Netflix subscription price if you take advantage of the available promos.
Also if you are thinking just doing the free trial and watching WONDER WOMAN 1984 and then cancelling after, Warner Brothers have thought of that too so they are disabling their free trial, something Netflix did a month ago or two ago. Unless you live in Sweden, Switzerland or Singapore where the free 1-month trial is still in play.
Also important to note that these movies are only going to be on HBO Max for 31 days. So that will attract more people because it’s a limited time only deal and people are drawn to those tactics. I also think people are going to be less likely to cancel because the thought process will be, “well I might as well keep it because there’s going to be another big blockbuster in a few weeks.” So I think that was genius on HBO’S part.
This is why I think HBO Max just won the streaming wars because I doubt Disney+ or Netflix or any other streaming service provider will also drop 17 big budget blockbuster movies on their streaming service free for existing subscribers next year.
Now HBO Max is not perfect, it’s Achilles’ heel is that it can’t work out a deal with Roku or with most Smart TV manufacturers like LG for example. And according to a recent Variety article the app is not coming anytime soon. But there are plenty of workarounds for example if you have an iPhone or an iPad you can simply go into your settings on your Roku and hit the AirPlay or screencast feature. If you don’t see this feature, update your Roku and you should be able to see it. You will find the update also in the settings. For Android users you can also cast to your Roku player.
Another drawback to HBO Max is a lack of 4K content or special features like you would find on Disney+ titles. Wonder Woman 1984 is said to be released in 4k and HDR so maybe that would be a starting point.
I have also seen people buying Amazon Fire devices like a Fire TV Cube or a Fire TV Stick, when they already own a Roku or their TV is already smart, specifically for HBO Max. Because Amazon just reached a deal with Warner Media and the app is now available. I think that speaks volumes that people would get an additional device for just one streaming service. And I don’t blame them I find myself searching less and watching more when I’m using Warner Media’s app. And I think that’s very important for any streaming Outlet.
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