Fresh off a major reshuffle that firmly placed HBO Max at the centre of its business strategy and saw up to 800 people laid off, WarnerMedia has set its sights on the SVOD being accessible on Amazon devices by the end of the year.
At launch, HBO Max was controversially absent from Roku and Amazon Fire devices, with WarnerMedia unable to come to a suitable distribution arrangement with either party, but evidently being more focused on the former for now.
In an interview with Bloomberg, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar – who was the founding CEO Hulu and previously an SVP of Amazon – launched into an attack on the ecommerce and tech giant, saying: “If Amazon were truly focused just on the consumers with Fire devices, HBO Max would be on Fire devices. The consumer wants it.”
When asked why the service is absent from Amazon devices, Kilar said “Call the Seattle folks.”
He added that the draw of HBO Max should make Amazon’s mind up for it on the approach to Christmas: “As we head into the fourth quarter, when gift giving happens, it becomes a more material situation for a seller of hardware. There are alternatives in Google Chromecast and Apple TV.”
While certainly hostile, Kilar’s comments echo the sentiments of AT&T CEO John Stankey, who said on the company’s Q2 earnings call that Amazon has rebuffed its attempts to launch on Fire devices.
He said: “We’ve tried repeatedly to make HBO Max available to all customers using Amazon Fire devices, including those customers that have purchased HBO via Amazon. Unfortunately, Amazon has taken an approach of treating HBO Max and its customers differently on how they’ve chosen to treat other services and their customers.”
It is believed that Amazon wants HBO Max to sit within their respective channels section – a similar arrangement to how HBO Max appears on YouTube TV – while Warner is pushing for HBO Max to be its own standalone app.
The service was at four million subscribers for the end of the quarter.
Speaking in the interview more broadly on the evolution of TV going forward, the OTT pioneer Kilar said that IP will become a more standardised form of broadcast delivery. He said: “Over the next couple of decades, the dominant means of content distribution, including sports, will be internet protocol. You will see a transition from satellite and cable to IP in terms of delivery.
“I get very excited about how dynamic a live sporting event can and should be once it’s on IP, in terms of how social, how dense the information should be. Our grandkids — if not kids – will look back at live sports broadcast from 2020 and think it was so pedestrian and simple.”
He added that in terms of sports, he envisions a future where “you will see a continuation of the bundle that has most of the major sports,” but said that “if you could go back in history and start things fresh” then the choice of a la care and bundled options would be ideal.
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