AT&T Drops HBO Max From Premium Unlimited Wireless Plan

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(Image credit: AT&T)

The "flywheel," that ever-spinning virtuous cycle of data, distribution and programming that AT&T CEO John Stankey described following his company's $85 billion purchase of Time Warner Inc. four years ago, is no more. 

AT&T has given up on what was perhaps the most key aspect of that strategy, slicing the free HBO Max enticement from the latest iteration of its premium unlimited wireless offering, now called "AT&T Unlimited Premium."

No, AT&T didn't merely downgrade its unlimited 5G customers to the discounted $9.99-a-month ad-supported version of HBO Max. It ditched the premium SVOD service from its most expensive wireless tier altogether. Those who subscribe to AT&T's legacy premium unlimited wireless tier, Unlimited Elite, will be unaffected. 

“HBO Max is a great service, but we constantly experiment with the features we offer our customers to give them the best value,” AT&T said in a statement. 

You can see the latest iteration of AT&T's three wireless tiers on this landing page. Beyond the loss of HBO Max, the biggest change to the unlimited plan is a bump-up in hotspot capacity from 40 gigabytes to 50GB.

AT&T recently spun off HBO and its parent division, WarnerMedia, in a $43 billion that merged the media conglomerate with Discovery Inc. 

This deal closed less than a year after AT&T spun off DirecTV in a partnership with private equity firm TPG. And at one point, of course, DirecTV was part of the ol' flywheel, too. 

Stankey led AT&T's media integration efforts following 2015's $49 billion purchase of DirecTV, as well. And the company's stock is priced around two thirds of where it stood five years ago. 

Stankey, who took over the CEO role from Randall Stephenson in July 2020, pulled in just under $25 million in exec compensation last year. 

It's a mystery to us as to how. But Stankey's flywheel keeps on turnin'. 

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!