• Inside the Stream Podcast: HBO/Max’s 1.8 Million Q3 U.S. Subscriber Loss is Actually a Good Thing

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Inside the Stream, the podcast where nScreenMedia’s Chief Analyst Colin Dixon and I take listeners inside the world of streaming video.

    HBO / HBO Max lost 1.8 million subscribers in the U.S. in Q3 2021. On the surface that might seem like a bad thing, especially given how hot the streaming business is these days. But as Colin and I discuss, this week, it’s actually a good thing, as it reflects the rolloff of many millions of subscribers who were acquired via a prior distribution deal with Amazon Channels.

    HBO Max has made an intentional decision to focus on a direct-to-consumer strategy, which we think is smart. Back in August, I explained the challenges SVOD services have with third-party distribution, including with Amazon, based on my personal experience subscribing to AMC+ through Amazon.

    After talking to industry colleagues since, I’ve become more skeptical about the long-term value to SVOD services in these deals. So a DTV strategy, especially for a big player like HBO Max, seems like the right one. As we also discuss, it’s also a smart move given HBO Max, as part of WarnerMedia, will be merged into Discovery in 2022.

    Elsewhere in the podcast we talk about the per subscriber value of the ad-supported vs. ad-free business model, and why I think that in the long-term, the former is far greater in a connected TV dominated world with “full funnel” marketing capabilities. We also dig into HBO Max’s decision to have content parity starting in January between its ad-supported and ad-free tiers. Lots to digest.

    Listen to the podcast (33 minutes, 57 seconds)

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