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Dish Ends Carriage Dispute with WarnerMedia, Bringing HBO Back After Over 2.5 Year Hiatus

Michael King

It looks like at long last, HBO and Cinemax are coming back to Dish.

A tweet from the Dish Answers account on Thursday morning seemed to confirm the news, saying, “We are pleased to announce that HBO and Cinemax will be coming back soon.”

Dish later confirmed the news directly, offering customers a 10-day free preview to access HBO and Cinemax. The new deal does not include Dish-owned Sling TV, according to the company.

Dish customers can also subscribe to the HBO Max Ad Free plan for $12 per month for up to 12 months when they subscribe by October 27, 2021, a discount off its standard $14.99 per month pricing. Additionally, DISH TV customers will get six live channels, including HBO, HBO Family and HBO Signature, as well as access to thousands of movies and shows on demand.

“Our number one priority at DISH is and always has been to provide our customers the best entertainment experience,” said Brian Neylon, Group President, DISH TV. “Our customers now have greater choice in the content they can access. HBO Max and Cinemax offer iconic, beloved and acclaimed content that our customers will enjoy.”

Dish customers will additionally have the opportunity to subscribe to Cinemax for an additional $10 per month. New Cinemax customers on Dish will have access to three live channels, including Cinemax, 5-Star Max and More Max, as well as access to thousands of movies on demand.

Prior to the carriage dispute, Dish reportedly had 2.5 million subscribers of HBO through their satellite service and Sling TV. HBO Max added 2.8 million subscribers last quarter, most of which came directly to the service.

HBO & Cinemax were removed from Dish and Sling TV in November 2018 after the two sides could not come to an agreement on terms regarding carriage of the channels.

A short time after HBO departed Dish in 2018, Dish had accused HBO owner AT&T of abuse of market power it had obtained through the Time Warner acquisition.

“Plain and simple, the merger created for AT&T immense power over consumers,” said Andy LeCuyer, Dish senior vice president of programming, in a statement at the time. “It seems AT&T is implementing a new strategy to shut off its recently acquired content from other distributors. This may be the first of many HBO blackouts for consumers across the country. AT&T no longer has incentive to come to an agreement on behalf of consumer choice; instead, it’s been given the power to grab more money or steal away customers.”

In response, HBO said Dish was being “extremely difficult” and responding to good faith negotiations with “unreasonable terms.”

“Past behavior shows that removing services from their customers is becoming all too common a negotiating tactic for them,” HBO said at the time.

Word of the new deal comes in the midst of the huge merger that would see HBO and other WarnerMedia assets combine with Discovery, Inc., to become the new Warner Bros. Discovery. That merger is expected to close during the second quarter of 2022.

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