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Survey: HBO Max Resonating Among Younger Demos

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CHEYNE GATELEY/VARIETY INTELLIGENCE PLATFORM

Of all age groups, WarnerMedia should be worried about being able to attract millennials the least, new survey data suggests. 

According to exclusive data provided to Variety Intelligence Platform by market research firm Maru/Matchbox, the age group most interested in subscribing to HBO Max was 18-34 year-olds, with 18% of respondents in that age group saying they were “very interested” in subscribing to the new HBO D2C platform. The older the age group examined, the lower the interest was in subscribing to HBO Max: 11% of 35-44 year-olds said they were “very interested,” while these figures slid further among 45-54 year-olds (10%) and 55-64 year olds (4%).

The obvious: This type of split of subscription interest among different age groups is to be expected generally for any SVOD, as younger consumers tend to be heavier video streamers. Leichtman Research Group found that 51% of U.S. consumers aged 18-34 used an SVOD service daily in June 2019, while this figure was 34% for 35-54 year-olds and 15% for those 55+.

The less obvious: Interest levels for HBO Max among older age groups might not be as high as WarnerMedia would like for them or expected them to be at the moment. 

Yes, securing younger eyeballs is always useful for any media venture, especially as the median age of linear HBO and digital HBO is respectively 49 and 36, according to chairman of WarnerMedia entertainment Robert Greenblatt at the October 2019 HBO Max unveiling. But HBO Max is supposed to be, and was pitched as, a for-everyone service that appealed to all demos, as evidenced by the WarnerMedia’s four-quadrant chart that plotted the demographic appeal of its various brands like TNT, CNN, Adult Swim, and the CW at that October 2019 presentation. “In aggregate we will have very broad coverage across all four quadrants,” Greenblatt said during that presentation.

Sure, it’s still early days for HBO Max, and its forthcoming titles will likely help balance out the demo appeal of the service, but the notion that HBO Max may not be broadly appealing (especially among older age groups) as initially pitched should still be considered. 

Rather than because of a flawed programming mix, the demo appeal could be more of a function of HBO Max awareness among different age groups. 

Maru/Matchbox’s data showed that younger age groups tended to know the most about HBO Max (see chart).

Moreover, younger age groups tended to be more aware of the key library content offerings HBO Max has on deck, such as “Friends,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” and the entire Studio Ghibli film collection. 

A lot of these franchises started in the 90s (“Friends,” “The Matrix,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” and “South Park”), so older consumers are likely to be aware of them as well. And since HBO Max cannot bank on a Disney+-Baby Yoda-esque moment to quickly boost its profile among the general public, it may have to consider ramping up marketing spend to ensure consumers are more aware of its biggest franchise offerings.