WarnerMedia’s new streaming service HBO Max launched today with a couple of conspicuous absences from the list of supported devices — Max is not yet available on Roku or Amazon’s Fire TV.
It sounds like this isn’t just a technical issue that will be fixed imminently. WarnerMedia’s vice president of communications Chris Willard told USA Today that “there is no deal in place” to bring the service to those platforms.
In a statement sent out this afternoon, Amazon suggested that the disagreement revolves around bringing HBO Max to Prime Video Channels, and around HBO’s somewhat confusing distribution strategy. (For those of you who haven’t been following along: The HBO Now app is being updated as HBO Max, which includes HBO, plus a bunch of other content. At the same time, HBO will continue to operate as a standalone brand.)
The company said that by not making Max available through Prime Video Channels, WarnerMedia’s parent company AT&T “is choosing to deny those loyal HBO customers access to the expanded catalog.”
Here’s Amazon’s full statement:
With a seamless customer experience, nearly 5 million HBO streamers currently access their subscription through Amazon’s Prime Video Channels. Unfortunately, with the launch of HBO Max, AT&T is choosing to deny these loyal HBO customers access to the expanded catalog. We believe that if you’re paying for HBO, you’re entitled to the new programming through the method you’re already using. That’s just good customer service and that’s a priority for us.
Meanwhile, a statement from Roku also pointed to unresolved issues:
As the No. 1 streaming platform in the U.S. we believe that HBO Max would benefit greatly from the scale and content marketing capabilities available with distribution on our platform. We are focused on mutually positive distribution agreements with all new OTT services that will deliver a quality user experience to viewers in the more than 40 million households that choose Roku to access their favorite programs and discover new content. Unfortunately we haven’t reached agreement yet with HBOMax. While not on our platform today, we look forward to helping HBOMax in the future successfully scale their streaming business.
Update: WarnerMedia just provided an additional statement.
We are thrilled that HBO Max is widely available at launch to customers through a variety of devices and distribution partners as well as HBOMax.com. Our goal is to make HBO Max available on every platform possible to as many viewers globally as possible so they can enjoy beloved shows from HBO, the Warner Bros. movie and TV library and a diversity of hit programming exclusive to HBO Max. We look forward to reaching agreements with the few outstanding distribution partners left, including with Amazon and on par with how they provide customers access to Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu on Fire devices.