The UK alongside several other European countries will need to wait three more years until a deal with Sky runs out. By 2026, HBO Max expects to available in 190 countries.
HBO Max will launch on 26th October 2021 in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Spain, and Andorra. Other parts of central and eastern Europe will follow in 2022. The UK, Republic of Ireland, Austria, Italy and Germany are covered by a separate deal with Comcast / Sky, which runs until 2024. The Sky deal, signed shortly before HBO’s owners performed a strategic U-turn, means Sky’s platforms retain exclusive access to HBO’s shows until then.
However, this week’s launch event provides users currently served by Sky with a glimpse of what’s to come.
Structure of the new service
HBO Max will offer content from WarnerMedia’s family of brands. These will be housed in five hubs:
- Warner Bros,
- Max Originals,
- Cartoon Network.
As with other subscription streaming services, the best value will come from an annual subscription. In the European countries getting HBO Max first, an annual subscription will offer 12 months access for the price of eight months. There will also be special introductory offers.
How soon will new releases be shown?
The latest blockbuster movies from Warner Bros will drop on HBO Max just 45 days after theatrical release.
Which programmes will be in the HBO Max library?
Given the amount of convergence in the TV and film industry in the past five years, it’s hard to keep up with who has the rights for each piece of content. Here’s some of what’s coming:
- Warner Bros movies and movie franchises including Harry Potter, Godzilla vs. Kong, Dunkirk, The Lord of the Rings, The Shining and A Clockwork Orange.
- DC movies including The Joker, Wonder Woman 1984, Aquaman, Batman v Superman, and Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
- HBO original programming such as Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon, The Sopranos, Succession, Scenes from A Marriage, The Undoing, Sex and the City and Euphoria.
- Max Originals including The Flight Attendant, Gossip Girl, Raised by Wolves and Friends: The Reunion.
- New and iconic children’s favourites include Tom and Jerry, The Powerpuff Girls and Looney Tunes.
How will this affect Sky subscribers?
Until 2024, HBO content will continue on Sky’s entertainment channels. Sky Atlantic, originally launched as the home of HBO content, is already being reconfigured to take in a broader range of programmes. Sky will continue to show Warner Bros movies on Sky Cinema and it will continue to carry linear TV channels.
But the writing is on the wall.
Sky has already lost Disney content. Discovery’s output is slowly drifting off -as Discovery moves away from linear TV to streaming service discovery+. Recently, Discovery and HBO’s owners merged, the parent is now known as Warner Bros. Discovery. This gives the media giant considerable clout when it comes to negotiating terms once all previously negotiated deals with Sky expire.
As a result, in 2024, viewers can expect to pay extra for content they normally get included with Sky at the moment. However, it’s likely that subscribers will have initial access at no extra cost (mirroring the strategy with Disney and Discovery). Sky’s current strategy of ‘deep integration’ on Sky Q means viewers won’t necessarily notice the programme they’ve selected on their device is now coming from a different app.