In a new sampling strategy to boost HBO Max sign-ups, WarnerMedia is letting Snapchat users in the U.S. watch select pilots of the streaming service’s original series for free — with up to 63 friends.
Starting to roll out Tuesday, the first episodes of shows on HBO Max including the “Gossip Girl” reboot, “Euphoria,” “The Flight Attendant,” “Lovecraft Country” and “Game of Thrones” will be available to stream on Snapchat’s app in the U.S.
Snapchatters can watch the free episodes with friends through Snap Minis, the company’s platform for shared experiences on Snapchat. HBO Max is the first major streamer to build a Snap Mini co-viewing experience to bring full-length episodes to Snapchat.
While watching the HBO Max shows via shared playback, Snapchat users can chat and share Bitmoji reactions. After the episodes are over, there’s a call to action: Snapchatters will be presented with a link to go to HBO Max to subscribe and continue watching the full series.
HBO Max’s sampling pact with Snapchat — which averaged 93 million daily active users in North America in the first quarter of 2021 — is an effort by WarnerMedia to reel in new customers for its flagship subscription-streaming service amid fierce competition. In Q1, HBO Max had 9.69 million retail subscribers, up 2.8 million from 6.88 million in Q4. Wholesale HBO Max/HBO customers (through Comcast and other distributors) increased just 150,000 for the period, to 30.94 million.
Note that HBO Max already makes a selection of episodes available to stream for free (on its website at this link). WarnerMedia is hoping to harness Snapchat’s large user base and the app’s co-viewing features to lure new fans into the HBO Max fold.
“People love to come together to watch their favorite HBO Max shows and talk about what’s unfolding,” said Sarah Lyons, HBO Max’s EVP of direct-to-consumer global product management. “Our partnership with Snapchat is another step towards fulfilling that desire for human connection and providing our fans with co-viewing opportunities, while deepening their emotional relationship with the brand.”
When Snapchat users launch the HBO Max Mini experience (via the rocket icon in the Chat screen) or through Search, they will be required to enter their birthdate to access a collection of free, age-appropriate pilot episodes. Viewers can then invite up to 63 other Snapchatters by sending an in-chat message with a link to join the Mini, or by sending a clickable sticker link with the image of the show via Snap’s camera.
The HBO Max episodes available on Snapchat will be rotated on an ongoing basis. At launch, pilot episodes available on the HBO Max Mini include: “Craftopia,” “Euphoria,” “The Flight Attendant,” “Game of Thrones,” “Genera+ion,” “Gossip Girl” (2021), “Looney Tunes,” “Love Life,” “Lovecraft Country,” “Selena + Chef,” “Titans,” “Warrior,” “World of Calm” and “Betty” (Season 2, Episode 1).
“We’re excited to partner with HBO Max to offer our community an innovative co-viewing experience inside of Snapchat,” Alston Cheek, Snap’s director of platform partnerships, said in a statement. “Snap Minis offer an exciting new way for HBO Max to create social experiences for fans of its programming, complementing our incredible Snap Originals and partnered content available on Discover.”