DIRECTV has quietly reduced its free HBO Max offer for new customers from one year to three months, the first major action it has taken since August 2 when it became a separate company jointly owned by AT&T and TPG, a private equity firm.

It’s unclear if the decision is directly related to the formation of the new company, which consists of DIRECTV, U-verse and AT&T TV, which will be renamed this week to DIRECTV Stream. But since May 2020, DIRECTV has offered a full year of HBO Max for free to new customers subscribing to a Choice or above programming package.

HBO Max is still wholly owned by AT&T, but it will be part of a new company owned jointly by AT&T and Discovery when those two companies close on a minority stake sale next year.

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Discovery, which will assume 30 percent ownership in AT&T’s Warner Media, the parent of HBO Max, may not approve of giving new DIRECTV subscribers a full year of HBO Max for free considering it has no financial stake in the new DIRECTV company.

AT&T, which purchased DIRECTV in 2015, said prior to the Discovery sale that the free HBO Max for one year offer was part of the synergetic benefit of owning both services. The telco believed it could use one to attract customers to the other. But AT&T now no longer wholly owns both DIRECTV and HBO Max and, theoretically, does not have the authority to unilaterally dictate strategy.

The TV Answer Man yesterday asked DIRECTV for a comment on the reduced HBO Max offer. A company spokesman said yesterday he would check into it, but he has not responded since.

On the left: DIRECTV’s HBO Max promo from last week.
On the right: The revised, reduced offer.

AT&T TV, which will also not be part of the Discovery deal, could lose its free HBO Max offer as well. Since last year, the live streaming service has also offered a free year of HBO Max with Choice and above plans. But the fine print of the offer at the AT&T TV web site now says the promotion is scheduled to end tomorrow, August 25.

It’s unknown if AT&T TV’s HBO Max one-year promotion will also be reduced to three months, or eliminated entirely. However, the promotion’s new August 25 expiration date is noteworthy because AT&T TV is scheduled to be renamed DIRECTV Stream on Thursday, August 26.

The TV Answer Man will update this story if we receive a comment from DIRECTV.

Update: A DIRECTV spokesman confirmed today that the HBO Max promo will be for three months for all DIRECTV services:

“Across DIRECTV our premium trial periods are now consistent for three months and this move provides a more predictable experience for customers. We will keep assessing and adjusting our offers to give our customers more choice and control over any premium service they wish,” the spokesman said

Last note: DIRECTV’s new HBO Max three-month offer also includes three months free of Epix, Starz, Showtime and Cinemax, The four premium services were also available for free for three months to new customers when DIRECTV was offering one year free of HBO Max.

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— Phillip Swann