Nine days after launch, HBO Max this morning is still not available on Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV, the nation’s two leading streaming devices.
Tony Goncalves, CEO of AT&T’s Otter Media, which manages HBO Max, tells The Verge that he hopes that deals can eventually be struck with all important devices, including Roku and Fire TV. But he adds that HBO Max has the advantage of targeting HBO’s existing audience of 30 million.
“Being available on the platforms that consumers use to access these new networks is really, really important,” he says. “I just go back to the fact that we’re just … I think we’re just starting from a very, very different place. We have 30-plus million existing subscribers that have already gone in their pocket and voted to subscribe to a product, and we’re making that product better. We think the value prop is there. We just want to be treated fairly.
“Disney Plus and Netflix and Hulu and these other apps are on those platforms (Roku and Fire TV). There’s a certain business model that exists. We just want the same one. I’m hopeful that, ultimately, we’ll get there, and we’ll get there with the consumer in mind. But we just didn’t get there on day one,” Goncalves adds.
Or day nine. (HBO Max launched on May 27.)
The absence of deals with Roku and Fire TV, which some analysts say reach more than 40 percent of the streaming audience, could slow or eventually derail AT&T’s plans to use HBO Max as a vehicle to entice consumers to try other company products, such as DIRECTV and AT&T’s phone service. (The company is including free HBO Max access with some AT&T plans.)
Of course, carriage negotiations often look their bleakest shortly before settlement, but the gulf between AT&T and Roku/Fire TV is thought to be wide. Both Roku and Amazon want HBO Max to be part of their ‘channels’ section, which would give the two companies more control and advertising opportunities.
Meanwhile, AT&T seems to be preparing to find other ways to generate subscriber numbers, such as rebranding HBO Now on iTunes as HBO Max.
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— Phillip Swann