AT&T's incoming CEO, John Stankey, has high hopes for the provider's pending launch of its HBO Max streaming video service. And he's expecting broad distribution of the service – with the notable exception of Amazon.
"We're going to be available across a broad cross-section of distributors. I think that will help with the momentum of the product coming out the door," Stankey said Wednesday at an investor conference. "We're going to be in virtually all app stores, with maybe one exception: It looks like we may not be in the Amazon Fire app store, when all is said and done. But we feel really good about the distribution dynamic."
That's noteworthy considering AT&T is working to get a range of companies to sell its new HBO Max service. For example, the company recently announced distribution deals with the likes of Charter Communications, Apple and Google. The absence of Amazon from AT&T's lineup could be an issue considering Amazon counts roughly 40 million active users for its Fire TV platform, just ahead of Roku's 39.8 million.
Nonetheless, Stankey said HBO Max is launching at an auspicious time. "People are looking for things to do in their homes right now," he said, acknowledging the widespread lockdown orders to stem the spread of COVID-19. "I think that's going to be great for the product."
Stankey did point to one potential HBO Max hiccup: He explained that lockdowns across Hollywood would hinder AT&T's efforts to create new content for HBO Max. He said that situation would likely affect the streaming service into 2021.
Finally, Stankey suggested that AT&T's HBO Max launch would position the company to take advantage of the next big transition in the video industry. He said cable and pay-TV providers offering hundreds of proprietary TV channels enjoyed success decades ago by offering an alternative to broadcast TV. Similarly, he said AT&T would use HBO Max to take advantage of cord-cutting and the general move from cable and pay-TV to Internet streaming.
At launch, AT&T has said HBO Max will feature about 10,000 hours of library content and basically double the amount of content delivered on its legacy HBO service. The company has set a goal for HBO Max to bring in 75 million to 90 million subscribers worldwide (including 50 million in the US) by 2025.