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AT&T President Stankey: HBO Max Might Not Be Available on Amazon Fire TV At Launch

Jason Gurwin

If HBO Max will be available on Amazon Fire TV at launch, it appears it will go down to the wire. During the JPMorgan Technology, Media, and Communications Conference, AT&T President and future CEO, John Stankey said the service will be available on “virtually all app stores or maybe one exception.”

According to Stankey, that one exception might be Amazon Fire TV devices. “It looks like we may not be in the Amazon Fire App Store when is all said is done.”

HBO NOW is thought to be the most popular service offered via Amazon Prime Video Channels, but it comes at a cost. It has been reported that Amazon keeps 30% of subscription revenue every month, which makes it an expensive channel of distribution. In 2018, TDG estimated that nearly 53% of HBO’s direct-to-consumer subscribers came from Amazon Channels.

Prior to Disney+ launch in November, they also were at odds with Amazon over distribution on Fire TV. At the time, it was reported, that Amazon wanted to sell “a substantial percentage of the ad space” on Disney apps (ABC, ESPN, and Disney Channel). Though Disney+ does not ads, Amazon has used these new streaming launch as an opportunity to revisit advertising terms for media company’s other apps. Ultimately, the two sides were able to reach a deal the week before launch.

Other services like Disney+, Hulu, Apple TV+ are all available on Amazon Fire TV, but not through Amazon Prime Video Channels. Since Amazon Channels 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% monthly nut, it is probably too expensive for HBO to continue to do that — which may mean that HBO Max won’t be on Amazon Fire TV, at least right away.

Overall though, Stankey said he feels “really good about the distribution dynamic, the availability of the product..I think it’s going to generate a lot of word of mouth socially. It’s going to generate a lot of activity. And then what we’re doing for promotions of attaching the AT&T products, I think, will be another boost that’s going to be really beneficial.”

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