In a victory for AT&T’s WarnerMedia, HBO will no longer be available as an Amazon Channel after their current placement deal expires next year, according to people familiar with the matter.
Today, HBO’s presence in the Amazon Channels store lets users watch regular HBO programming within the Amazon Fire TV user interface, making it easy for consumers to subscribe and sign up. But this placement was a major sticking point in the negotiations to get HBO Max, the company’s separate streaming service, on to the Amazon Fire TV platform, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the deal terms are private.
Those talks dragged on for months before concluding this week with a deal.
HBO Max includes additional content that’s not available on HBO, like “South Park and “The Big Bang Theory.” Over time, WarnerMedia would like the HBO Max application to be the only point of entry into HBO services on streaming platforms.
Although this user interface distinction may feel esoteric to most consumers, it matters a lot to WarnerMedia. Keeping subscribers within the HBO Max application allows WarnerMedia to have a direct relationship with consumers and to gain viewer information that can be used for targeted advertising. An advertising-supported version of HBO Max is slated for launch next year.
Consumers who purchased HBO through Amazon Channels will be able to log in to HBO Max for no extra charge through the HBO Max application. Legacy HBO will remain in the Channels store until its agreement — which is separate from the HBO Max deal — expires next year.
Still, keeping HBO and HBO Max out of the Amazon Channels store could hurt subscriber growth.
With Amazon’s deal done, WarnerMedia will turn its attention to hammering out an agreement with Roku, the largest streaming video platform by market share, the people said. Roku also has a channels business, which HBO Max is fighting to avoid. WarnerMedia will also have to come to an advertising revenue share agreement with Roku, similar to NBCUniversal’s Peacock, which reached a deal with Roku in September.
Spokespeople for WarnerMedia and Amazon declined to comment.