Amazon and WarnerMedia have struck a new temporary agreement that will allow HBO Now customers to continue streaming on Fire TV while the companies continue negotiations over HBO Max.
Before we go any further, let’s break down this situation. In April, WarnerMedia launched its new crown jewel streaming service, HBO Max. The app was made available everywhere except on Amazon Fire TV and Roku. Two weeks after HBO Max launched, WarnerMedia announced it was getting rid of the HBO Go app. This is how HBO customers who purchased the network via their cable provider could stream content. At the same time, WarnerMedia announced that the HBO Now app would simply become HBO. To quickly summarize: HBO Go is disappearing, HBO Now is becoming HBO, and HBO Max still isn’t available for Amazon customers.
WarnerMedia also announced at the time that Amazon would not carry the new HBO app as of July 31st. This meant there would be no way for the approximately 5 million HBO subscribers on Amazon to watch the network. Now, however, Amazon and WarnerMedia have struck a deal to allow HBO Now customers to stream the network for the time being, according to Variety.
As part of the new deal, standard HBO subscribers who have their subscription via Amazon Prime Video Channels (the ecosystem that houses a bunch of add-on channels) can continue streaming the network. Whether HBO remains part of the Channels ecosystem is an ongoing part of the dispute between WarnerMedia and Amazon. Negotiations for HBO Max have reportedly stalled.
Is it all unnecessarily complicated? You bet! Does this mean that HBO Now customers will forever use the newly branded HBO app? Who knows! Will HBO Max ever come to Amazon? I wish I had a Magic 8-Ball to consult.
There’s also the other elephant in the room: Roku. HBO Max hasn’t landed on the platform either, and HBO Go is also being sunset. But unlike Amazon, WarnerMedia and Roku already had a deal in place to let HBO Now customers continue streaming in the newly designated HBO app.
So why is it all so confusing? WarnerMedia wants its HBO customers to use HBO Max. That means both cable customers and digital-first streamers who are using HBO Now. Converting those subscribers has been a pain for WarnerMedia, according to AT&T CEO John Stankey, who spoke about HBO Max on AT&T’s recent earnings call. Getting rid of HBO Go and HBO Now as names allows WarnerMedia to make the offers a little more simple going forward: HBO and HBO Max. I imagine the goal is to eventually only offer HBO Max.
Trying to understand WarnerMedia’s (and, to a much larger extent, AT&T’s) branding strategies is an exhausting task. But all you need to know is that if you subscribe to HBO Now or HBO via Amazon Prime Video Channels, you’ll still be able to stream the network as of August 1st. Feel free to enjoy Perry Mason at a leisurely speed instead of trying to cram it all in at once.