Warner Media has already been making inroads into podcasting and now the company will also have a another distribution point for its content. HBO Max, the video streaming service set to launch next year, will also feature podcast content. During a two-hour unveiling of the service Tuesday in Los Angeles, executives described the podcast component on HBO Max’s mobile app as a way to stay connected with subscribers even when they are on the go and not watching television or video content.
The HBO Max app will initially feature podcasts that have ties to one of the shows featured on the video service with listeners to a show being recommended video content based on what audio they consume. The Chernobyl Podcast is one example of a show that will be on the HBO Max app. The audio component to the TV series “Chernobyl” launched in May and quickly saw downloads add up. Executives said this month that The Chernobyl Podcast has so far had more than 10 million plays across various platforms.
“What you’re seeing is just the beginning. We’ll continue to experiment with unique ways to use screen space that current SVOD services just aren’t doing,” said Andy Forssell, Executive VP and General Manager of Direct-To-Consumer at Warner Media. “Our goal is to create novel experiences for our viewers and to deliver human-powered discovery.”
HBO Max will launch in May 2020 and carry a $14.99 per month subscription fee with an ad-supported version set to debut in 2021. The HBO Max mobile app will be preinstalled on all smartphones sold by AT&T, the parent of Warner Media. It will feature a slate of original content including from brands under its corporate umbrella, like Conan O’Brien’s Team Coco. Executives did not say whether his popular Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend would be among the podcasts featured on the mobile app.
The company is targeting 50 million domestic subscribers and 75 to 90 million premium subscribers by year-end in 2025 across the U.S., Latin America and Europe. At launch, AT&T will immediately offer HBO Max to the roughly 10 million HBO subscribers on AT&T distribution platforms, at no additional charge.
Beyond the podcasts included on HBO Max, Warner Media has continued to build out a podcast network, announcing several new shows at the IAB Podcast Upfront this month in New York. The Warner Media Podcast Network already includes more than 70 podcasts. The company also said it now has a dedicated sales team focused on developing more impactful deals across its portfolio of premium brands. It is levering the company’s Data Cloud to allow marketers to deliver ads in podcasts to more specific audiences.
“Warner Media’s focus on the podcast space is another way the company is generating strategic, 360-degree brand extension opportunities for our portfolio of high-profile entertainment, news and kids’ content,” said Tyler Moody, Vice President and General Manager of the Warner Media Podcast Network. “Whether it’s working with independent podcast creators on content or engaging with advertisers to build a bigger campaign, we’re able to add additional scale to our portfolio, additional revenue opportunities, and another layer to our fan engagement strategy.”