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Sky deal behind delayed HBO Max rollout, Kilar confirms

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Existing licensing deals are holding up a wider roll out of HBO Max across Europe, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar has said.

As confirmed last week, the streamer will roll out to 60 countries outside of the US this year including 21 countries in Europe, where it will arrive during the second half of 2021. This expansion however will not include key markets including the UK, Germany or Italy.

In an interview with the FT, Kilar confirmed that it would not bring HBO Max to these countries while it has an exclusive content distribution deal in place with Sky. 

WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar

Sky currently has the exclusive broadcast and VOD rights to HBO content and some key Warner Bros. movies, such as the recently released four-hour Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

The exec said that “there is tremendous opportunity for us to have HBO Max in the UK, Germany and other markets” and that the company is “spending a lot of time thinking about what happens” when the Sky deal expires in 2025.

Kilar, who was the founder of Hulu, also said that he was keen not to repeat the now Disney-owned streamer’s mistake of not rolling out internationally, referring to Hulu’s US-only focus as one of his “biggest regrets”.

He said that a similar reluctance to expand internationally – particularly in Europe – had previously held back the HBO brand. While HBO content has been licenced out to broadcasters internationally, it only operates as a standalone entity in a small number of territories including the Nordics and Spain. 

Speaking to the outlet, Kilar said: ““Why is HBO Max not in 190 countries today? Because of that history.”

By contrast, HBO Max – which first launched in the US in May 2020 – will rapidly expand this year, with Kilar saying that “as a leader, I need to make sure we set a record for how fast we go global.”