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AT&T's HBO Max Finally Available on Fire TV, Roku Devices

AT&T's HBO Max Finally Available on Fire TV, Roku Devices

The two largest streaming devices now have access to AT&T’s HBO Max, long after its original launch date, delayed due to disagreements.

The two largest streaming devices now have access to AT&T’s HBO Max, long after its original launch date, delayed due to disagreements.

Credit | Nexttv

HBO Max is now available on Amazon’s Fire TV platform and Roku devices, following months of the app being available but not on Fire devices or Roku devices for that matter.

Both of these platforms have had long standing deals with HBO, HBO Max’s precursor, and have also had struggles with licensing and rights, with Comcast’s Peacock service.

According to CNBC, the deal that just now placed HBO Max on Fire TVs, also necessitates Amazon’s removal of standard HBO from the Fire Channels lineup by early 2021.

Existing HBO subscribers are able to upgrade and/or login to HBO Max for no extra charge, but new subscribers will have to go specifically through HBO Max, not the preceding HBO.

Amazon’s HBO deal

Amazon’s Channels rolled out a couple years ago for Amazon customers, allowing a grouping of all of your streaming services under one account.

While this doesn’t give you any discounts, it allows all services to be charged as one bill, with easier access to individual services.

Currently, and up until 2021, Prime customers can access HBO services through Channels for an additional $14.99 monthly fee, after a 7 day free trial to let consumers test out the service.

This new deal prevents Amazon from licensing HBO content from WarnerMedia to subscribers through Channels, giving AT&T and WarnerMedia ultimate control over billing and data.

While this at first might seem less useful for WarnerMedia, since Channels is widely adopted, and it’s assumed that the company would welcome any opportunities for new subscribers, CNBC assumes that the aforementioned control over specifics might be the reasoning behind this choice.

Roku’s reasoning?
I’m not entirely sure why HBO Max hasn’t been placed on Roku devices already. It’s sort of confusing, other than the simple explanation that a deal hasn’t been positioned yet.
There was a report last week that Roku had reached a deal with AT&T, which is why it’s included in the title, but it’s an exclusive story to The Desk, with no other companies, or even other sources reporting the same deal. There’s really no guarantees here.

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Late to the party, again

Amazon and Roku are both notorious for their streaming platforms (and more), but sometimes, their inabilities to reach deals in time.

HBO Max isn’t the first time they’ve struggled to reach a lasting deal with a programming service.

Peacock, by NBCUniversal, by Comcast(?), was the previous deal breaker, which just recently came to Fire devices and Roku devices.

Peacock, unlike HBO Max, was argued over for a weird reason. Peacock has a free tier, with some paid tiers, while HBO Max is $14.99/month, and that’s it.

It’s theoretically much easier to monetize, and therefore make higher revenue from guaranteed paid services, due to their tangible pricing monthly, and recurring streams of revenue compared to ad services.

Roku and Amazon both make a lot of money from advertisements, but having a service where advertisement revenue deals have to be worked out is a different bag entirely.

My assumption is that the companies, all three, Roku, Amazon, and Comcast hadn’t come up with a way to split pricing from an ad-heavy service.

This is an entirely different reasoning with HBO Max, which was likely licensing, and figuring out how to switch the most HBO subscribers to the new service.

Even major news networks and other sites were confused as to why these issues arose, other than because the companies couldn’t “come to a distribution deal,” which really doesn’t provide many details on what happened.