WarnerMedia, racing to secure distribution deals for HBO Max ahead of the May 27 launch, announced a batch of seven new partner agreements for the streaming service.
But several major TV and over-the-top platforms still haven’t jumped aboard the HBO Max train at this point — most notably, Roku and Amazon and Comcast, the nation’s biggest cable operator. A key issue: WarnerMedia is pushing HBO Max as an “upgrade” to the current HBO service, but it wants partners to make HBO Max available as an app rather than a channel.
The latest partners that have signed on to distribute HBO Max at launch include Microsoft’s Xbox One, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s PlayStation 4, Samsung, and pay-TV operators Altice USA (on its Optimum and Suddenlink brands), Cox Communications’ Contour, and Verizon’s Fios TV and Fios Internet. In addition, HBO Max will be available to smaller ops through an agreement with the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC).
Over the past several weeks, WarnerMedia announced deals for HBO Max with Apple, Google, Hulu, Charter and YouTube TV — in addition to parent company AT&T — to offer the streaming product to customers at launch. HBO Max, touted as including everything available on HBO along with a slew of additional movies, TV shows and other programming, will be available only in the U.S. to start.
Under each of the agreements, existing HBO customers of the partner companies will be given access to HBO Max at launch at no extra cost while new customers will be able to purchase HBO Max directly for $14.99 per month from each provider.
Meanwhile, Dish Network is unlikely to be part of the HBO Max launch, given that it hasn’t carried HBO or Cinemax on its satellite or Sling TV services since November 2018.
“The launch of HBO Max is an important milestone for our company, and we’re excited that these valued partners will be on board for the launch,” said Rich Warren, president of WarnerMedia Distribution, in a statement. “Through our expansive distribution pipeline, millions of customers will have immediate access to a best-in-class streaming experience come May 27.”
On select Samsung’s smart TVs, HBO Max will be available on models from 2016 through 2020.
Through the NCTC agreement with WarnerMedia, HBO Max will be made available at launch to independent cable and broadband operators including WOW!; Atlantic Broadband; RCN, Grande Communications and Wave; and MCTV.