'Friends' Not HBO Max's Main Draw Ahead of Launch, Poll Finds

NBC/Photofest
'Friends'

Americans are more likely to subscribe to the service for the DC Extended Universe and 'Game of Thrones' than the ‘90s sitcom, a Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult poll finds.

WarnerMedia may have shelled out more than $400 million to bring Friends to forthcoming streamer HBO Max, but the sitcom classic may not be the service’s big draw.

It’s the HBO library that has Americans most excited about signing up for the $15-per-month offering, according to a new Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult poll. In a survey of 2,200 nationally representative adults conducted May 14-17, 34 percent of respondents said they were more likely to subscribe to HBO Max because it includes TV shows and movies from HBO.

The Warner Bros. TV and movie library — which encompasses all 10 seasons of Friends — is also a lure, with 32 percent of respondents saying that they’re more likely to subscribe to HBO Max because of that programming. But among specific IP, the DC Extended Universe (26 percent) and Game of Thrones (23 percent) had more pull than Friends (21 percent). It’s no wonder WarnerMedia is paying $20 million to $30 million to bring Zack Snyder’s vision for Justice League to HBO Max in 2021.

Original programming will also be a key subscription driver for HBO Max, with 25 percent of respondents indicating that they would be more likely to subscribe to the service based on its mix of new TV shows.

So far, WarnerMedia has largely focused its HBO Max marketing on the breadth of the content offering, with an ad campaign that uses the slogan, “Where HBO meets so much more.” But there is also value in promoting individual properties. Just 13 percent of people correctly identified Friends as part of HBO Max’s content lineup, for instance, though a planned Friends reunion special could help boost awareness around the show’s new home. (Notably, 6 percent of those polled said they cancelled or plan to cancel their Netflix subscription now that Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe and Joey are no longer on the service.)

HBO Max launches on May 27 but overall interest in the service has not changed since a previous Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult poll conducted in in late March. Among those polled, 5 percent said they would be very likely to subscribe and 11 percent said they would be somewhat likely. The interest improved by 3 points, however, after HBO Max’s content offering and price point was explained.  

Another question that Morning Consult looked at was how people’s existing streaming habits impact their interest in subscribing to new services. Netflix and Disney+ subscribers, for instance, are more apt to say that they are likely to subscribe to HBO Max. Among Netflix subscribers, 26 percent of respondents said they are more likely to sign up for HBO Max, and among Disney+ subscribers, 34 percent indicated the same.