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HBO Max unveils cheaper service with ads

The ad-supported tier is meant to help the service compete with lower-priced offerings like Hulu and Peacock.

AT&T CEO John Stankey, in happier times.

HBO Max is adding an ad-supported tier.

Photo: Presley Ann/Getty Images for WarnerMedia

It's not TV — it's HBO Max with ads. WarnerMedia announced a cheaper version of its streaming service Wednesday with ads for $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year. Ads won't play during HBO programs, which are included in the cheaper service.

Ads are "designed to complement and enhance the overall viewing experience," WarnerMedia said.

The full-priced service, which costs $14.99 a month, includes some features which will be missing from the ad-supported version, like downloading content for offline viewing and the highest-quality streaming. First-run Warner Bros. movies won't be available on the cheaper service until after they run in theaters.

HBO Max's high price has been seen as an obstacle for wider adoption. Disney's Hulu has a cheaper version with ads for $5.99 a month, and NBC's Peacock has a free, ad-supported version. Roku, Fox's Tubi, and ViacomCBS's Pluto offer ad-supported streaming video services. And broadcast television remains free to those with an antenna.

WarnerMedia parent AT&T is in the process of spinning the company off into a combination with Discovery. The new company will be called Warner Bros. Discovery, the companies said Tuesday.

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