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WarnerMedia CEO Wants Roku and Amazon to Treat HBO Max Like Netflix or Hulu

Stephanie Sengwe

It is no secret that carriage agreements can be difficult to reach, but almost two months have passed since HBO Max launched, and it seems the service is nowhere near launching on Roku and Amazon Fire TVs. Though the service has fared well since launching on May 27 without being available Roku or Fire TVs, they are still missing out on a large chunk of the market as the two platforms are reported to have a combined 80 million active users — making up 70 percent of the overall streaming player industry.

For WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, however, it is important to give these agreements their due diligence, as they have to be equally beneficial for both parties. “I think it’s important that when you enter into a partnership or enter into an agreement for distribution, it has to be a contract that actually works for both parties,” Kilar told TheWrap. “For me, that comes down to pure economics, which really is what our focus is — which is to be treated just like Netflix or Hulu are treated.”

Like NBCUniversal’s Peacock, which is in the same predicament, the issue comes down to how users get access to the apps. In July, CNBC reported that Peacock is embattled with Amazon over who gets to control user information. Parent company Comcast wants to strike a deal similar to the one Amazon struck with Disney back in November.

Under the agreement, Amazon allows for Disney+ to be available on all Fire devices but not available through Amazon Channels, making it possible for all sign-ups to go through the Disney+ website and for the company to have “a direct, one-to-one relationship with its customers.”

NBCU and WarnerMedia want similar deals because if users sign up for Peacock or HBO Max directly through the app or the website, the company is able to attain data that can then be used for targeted advertising and gives Peacock the opportunity to charge advertisers higher rates.

For Roku CEO Anthony Wood, a tough negotiation process is par for the course. “We’re not always first when it comes to adding new services to our platforms. It’s important to us that we establish a win-win-win relationship,” Wood said during the company’s Q2 2020 earnings call. “That economic model with our content distribution partners as well as our advertisers is what funds our business … It’s important we get that right.”

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