HBO Max will be distributed to Amazon Fire TV users’ devices starting Tuesday. This is a milestone for the streamer, whose early growth was somewhat subdued because there weren’t any major distribution deals in place.
HBO Max will be available nationwide on all Amazon devices, including Fire TV streaming devices, Fire TV Edition smart TVs, and Fire tablets. Subscribers to HBO over Amazon Prime video channels can upgrade to HBO Max at no additional cost, adding a lucrative new user base for the service ahead of the ad-supported 2021 tier.
“We’re thrilled that Amazon customers can now enjoy the best in-class content on HBO Max,” said Tony Goncalves, WarnerMedia’s director of sales and distribution, in a statement. “Our ongoing goal is to bring HBO Max and its unparalleled content to customers on all the devices they love.”
The deal marks the end of a month-long dead end between the two companies that prevented HBO Max from being available on Amazon Fire TV. As of January, Amazon Fire TV had more than 40 million users.
“We have worked closely with HBO for many years to bring their great content to Fire TV and to make it easy to discover and enjoy features like search integration, Alexa, and personalized recommendations,” said Marc Whitten, vice president of Amazon Entertainment Devices and Services. in a statement. “We’re excited to continue this partnership with the launch of HBO Max to bring even more incredible content to customers on Fire TV.”
The distribution agreement comes at a crucial time for HBO Max. The streamer will seek to grow its modest subscriber base over the holiday season as more streaming devices are sold and become even more important funnels for streamers for customer acquisition.
Last month, WarnerMedia announced to investors that the total number of domestic HBO and HBO Max subscribers in the United States combined had exceeded 38 million and that approximately 8 million subscribers had signed up for HBO Max directly. While this surpasses AT & T’s previously announced year-end goal of 36 million combined subscribers for HBO and HBO Max, Max’s own growth has met resistance, in part due to production challenges related to Covid-19.
“The customer acquisition game is an original game, but the loyalty game is a library game,” said John Stankey, CEO of AT&T. “Our library is incredibly powerful compared to our customer base … but the pandemic has put us in a difficult position with originals. We couldn’t get much of the work we had going on and it is this stream of originals that allows you to grow that customer base. We’re way ahead of our original plans, but we still know that if we’d had the right line-up, we probably could have done much better. “
It’s not just Covid-19, however. The company also suffered from some branding confusion after launch. Availability was also limited as HBO Max wasn’t available on Amazon Fire TV or Roku devices, two of the largest networked TV and streaming device companies in terms of floor space. (HBO Max is still not available on Roku devices that had 46 million active accounts last quarter.)
Distribution problems like this have become more and more important for new streamers and streaming platforms, who often argue over data sharing and increasingly lucrative advertising inventory. A stalemate between NBCUniversal streamer Peacock and Roku ended after a month-long stalemate when the companies signed a distribution deal in September.