HBO Max sharpens prices for European launch, adds more countries

FILE PHOTO: HBO logo is on display during an Apple event in San Francisco, California, U.S., March 9, 2015. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - HBO Max is stepping up the competition on prices with Netflix and Disney for the streaming service's upcoming European launch, and adding more countries to its launch slate.

The service, owned by AT&T Inc, will initially be available in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Spain, and Andorra from Oct. 26, followed by 21 more countries over the next year, up from its previous plans to launch in 14 countries.

Subscribers will be able to watch upcoming Warner Bros. movies - such as "King Richard" starring Will Smith and Keanu Reeves' "The Matrix Resurrections" - on HBO Max 45 days after theatrical release. Subscribers in the Nordics will be able to watch the movies from this year, and others from next year.

"We are lowering prices in the Nordic region by about 20%, and maintaining the price in Spain," HBO Max's EMEA General Manager Christina Sulebakk told Reuters on Tuesday.

In Sweden, monthly subscriptions will drop to 89 crowns ($10.20) from the current 109 crowns for HBO Nordic, she said.

HBO Max, launched in the United States last year, will replace regional networks such as HBO Nordic and bring in more content from Warner Bros., HBO, DC and Cartoon Network.

Alongside original shows such as "Game of Thrones," "The Sopranos," "Succession," and "Sex and the City," it will offer upcoming international original shows such as Denmark's "Kamikaze," Spain's "Todo lo Otro" Romania's "Ruxx," Hungary's "The Informant," and Poland's "Still Here".

Monthly plans for both Netflix and Disney Plus start at 89 crowns. However, a discounted annual HBO Max plan will cost 699 crowns, less than the 890 crowns charged by Disney Plus.

Apple TV+ costs 59 crowns per month and regional rival NENT's Viaplay starts from 129 crowns.

While HBO Max has several plans across various price points in the United States and Latin America, Europe will have only one plan. The top-end U.S. plan costs $14.99 per month.

"It's the full flavour ... we are not introducing a basic tier, and we are not introducing an advertising funded model either," Sulebakk said.

($1 = 8.7238 Swedish crowns)

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee, European Technology & Telecoms Correspondent, based in Stockholm; Editing by Mark Potter)

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