Cable Tech

HBO Max adds distribution partners as launch nears

AT&T's WarnerMedia has added some big distribution partners as the launch of HBO Max, its new super-sized SVoD service, approaches. But some other major pay-TV service providers, including Comcast and Dish Network, still remain absent from that list.

WarnerMedia announced today that HBO Max, set to launch on May 27 and start at $14.99 per month, has struck new distribution agreements with Altice USA, Cox Communications, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Verizon and the National Cable Television Cooperative, an organization that works with hundreds of independent cable operators and telcos, including WideOpenWest, Atlantic Broadband, RCN, Grande Communications and MCTV.

Among the new HBO Max deals, Altice USA has clearance to enable existing Optimum and Suddenlink HBO and HBO NOW subs to access HBO Max at launch at no added cost. Other Altice USA customers will be able to purchase HBO Max directly from the company as part of a pay-TV package, as an add-on to a video package or as a standalone streaming service available to Internet-only customers. HBO Max's agreement with Verizon is similar.

Legacy Cox HBO subs will also have access to HBO Max at launch at no extra cost, and all remaining and new customers will be able to purchase HBO Max directly from Cox.

The latest batch of deals gives HBO Max a path to more pay-TV providers as well as retail streaming platforms, such as Samsung smart TVs and Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox consoles. They also build on existing deals for HBO Max with AT&T (of course), Apple, Charter Communications, Hulu and YouTube TV.

Comcast and Dish Network are among some big distributors still off that list a week out from HBO Max's national launch.

As the launch approaches, WarnerMedia is also still without a deal to distribute HBO Max on the two most popular retail streaming platforms – Amazon's Fire TV and Roku.

HBO Max will launch with about 10,000 hours of content, anchored by HBO fare nd complemented by Turner, Warner Bros. and other content and studio brands in the WarnerMedia stable. WarnerMedia is currently offering HBO Max on pre-order for $11.99 per month for the first 12 months to new subscribers and returning, eligible HBO Now subs (HBO Now is the standalone, OTT-only version of HBO that does not require a separate pay-TV subscription).

WarnerMedia has set a goal for HBO Max to sign up 75 million to 90 million subs worldwide (including 50 million in the US) by 2025. An ad-supported version of HBO Max is expected to launch sometime in 2021.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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