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WarnerMedia Seals Distribution Deals With 7 New Partners a Week Ahead of HBO Max Launch

Stephanie Sengwe

When CEO Randall Stephenson said AT&T would be putting “all of the muscle and range of investment” behind HBO Max back in October, he clearly didn’t mean that lightly, as evidenced by WarnerMedia’s new distribution deals. According to Deadline, WarnerMedia has locked in distribution deals for the streaming service with seven new partners, a week ahead of its May 27 launch.

The new partners — ranging from cable operators, all the way to gaming and smart-TV platforms — include Altice USA, Cox Communications, Microsoft Xbox, Samsung, Sony PlayStation, Verizon and the National Cable Television Cooperative. This is in addition to the deals the company has already sealed with Charter, Hulu, YouTube TV and Apple TV.

As it stands, the company doesn’t have any deals with only three other major distributors: Comcast, Amazon and Roku.

Last week, news came out that WarnerMedia doesn’t have a deal to put HBO Max on Roku at launch. A statement from Roku read:

“As the #1 streaming platform in the U.S. with over 40 million active accounts that rely upon Roku to access their favorite programs and to discover new content, we are focused on entering into win-win distribution agreements with all new OTT services as part of their launch strategies. While we don’t typically comment on specific deal terms or negotiations, the fact is that in this instance while we believe that HBO Max would benefit greatly from distribution on Roku at launch, we do not currently have an agreement in place.”

Similar to Amazon, the dispute may be over whether HBO Max is available via The Roku Channel’s Premium Subscription service. Since Roku already distributes HBO Now, the two sides not only have to reach a deal to upgrade current subscribers to HBO Max, but whether they will continue to distribute it through their marketplace going forward.

At a 30 percent monthly nut, it is probably too expensive for HBO to continue to do that, which may mean that HBO Max, which no doubt will be on Roku eventually, might not be available right away.