The final five episodes of HBO’s freshman drama series Industry will land on HBO Max this Friday, marking another move from the WarnerMedia-owned streamer to woo new subscribers and encourage HBO subscribers to activate their HBO Max accounts over Thanksgiving weekend.
The unusual release marks another experiment from WarnerMedia to bolster its subscription numbers for HBO Max in the final months of 2020. Dumping the remainder of the season on HBO Max all at once will give viewers the chance to binge-watch the series in its entirety, and may entice HBO subscribers to activate their HBO Max accounts to view the rest of the show during a weekend that is expected to see less holiday travel than usual due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With the release, the episode drop marks the first time that HBO has binge-released multiple episodes of one of its shows in the middle of a season. The premium cable brand generally sticks to a weekly release schedule of its programming to feed its linear business. Industry will continue to air weekly on Monday nights at 10 p.m. ET on HBO, culminating in a back-to-back airing of the season’s final two episodes on Dec. 21. The episodes will also be available on HBO’s On Demand platform and on the standalone HBO app.
Industry, which debuted this fall, follows a group of young professionals navigating work and relationships in a high-stakes financial workplace. The show, led by Myha’la Herrold, debuted to positive reviews from critics, and its focus on younger characters makes it the kind of show that may attract slightly younger and more diverse audience base that HBO Max is looking to corner in the market.
The company last reported that total domestic HBO and HBO Max subscribers (which includes wholesale subscriptions, direct-to-consumer sign-ups and promotional subscriptions) topped 38 million in the U.S. and 57 million worldwide, but that HBO Max had attracted only about 8.6 million direct-to-consumer activations. At the time, AT&T CEO John Stankey said the company was suffering with sign-ups because many of its original series were hampered because of the pandemic’s effects on production.
“The customer acquisition game is an originals game, but the customer retention game is a library game,” Stankey said then. “Our library is performing incredibly strong relative to our customer base … but the pandemic put us in a tough spot in originals.”
HBO Max is planning other releases heading into an unusual holiday season to try to bolster its subscriber base ahead of the new year. Just last week, it announced plans to reroute DC Comics blockbuster Wonder Woman 1984 to HBO Max on Dec. 25, the same day it would hit theaters, to try to drive additional interest in the streaming service.
While there’s no indication that the episode dump marks a formal change in release strategy, it marks another instance of streamers experimenting with release schedules to see what works best for subscriber acquisition and retention. Disney+ has largely stuck with weekly releases, which helps extend its value proposition in the absence of a glut of original programming, while other services like Netflix have regularly released entire seasons all at once to capitalize on binge-watching habits. Other streamers, such as Hulu and HBO Max, have split the difference with limited-binge options, where three episodes are released on a weekly basis.