HBO Max sets a deal to finally get on Roku devices
Wonder Woman is flying to Roku after all.
WarnerMedia has secured a deal to make HBO Max available through Roku’s popular streaming devices, a move that could help the service draw more users as the entertainment giant plans to release multiple high-profile movies through the app.
HBO Max will launch on Roku on Thursday, the companies said Wednesday. The agreement ends a months-long standoff between the companies, which were at odds over the financial terms for Roku to carry the service.
Deal terms were not disclosed.
The pact comes as WarnerMedia’s storied Burbank movie studio Warner Bros. prepares to debut the Patty Jenkins superhero sequel “Wonder Woman 1984” simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters on Christmas Day.
Warner Bros. is making its entire 2021 slate of movies available for streaming on HBO Max as soon as they hit theaters. Critics say the studio is being “dismantled.”
Both sides were motivated to get a deal done by the Dec. 25 opening of “Wonder Woman 1984.”
Having its service available to Roku users significantly increases HBO Max’s reach. Without Roku, WarnerMedia could have missed out on millions of customers who might have signed up to see one of the year’s most anticipated movies. Adding HBO Max, and the content that comes with it, should help Roku keep its customers from departing for competing devices that carry the app.
Growing HBO Max is a top priority for WarnerMedia and its Dallas-based parent company AT&T, which launched the service in May to compete with Netflix and Disney+.
The app, which features HBO programming along with Warner Bros. oldies and shows from brands including Cartoon Network and Looney Tunes, got off to a slow start. It suffered from a lack of fresh hits, a relatively high price point, muddled marketing and confusion among consumers over the difference between HBO Max and legacy brands such as HBO Now.
HBO Max costs $15 a month, while Netflix’s standard plan charges $14 a month. Disney+ is increasing its U.S. price by $1 to $8 a month in March.
HBO Max reached 12.6 million activations this month in the U.S. (the only country where it’s available), up from 8.6 million at the end of September, AT&T Chief Executive John Stankey said last week at an investor conference, attributing the gains to original programming such as “The Flight Attendant.”
AT&T reported HBO and HBO Max had a combined 57 million subscribers globally. Netflix has 195 million paying members worldwide, while Disney+ has 86.8 million.
HBO Max debuted without carriage on Amazon or Roku devices, which hobbled its initial growth. WarnerMedia sealed a deal in November to get HBO Max on Amazon’s Fire TV devices, but Roku remained a hurdle.
Roku, based in San Jose, counted 46 million user accounts as of September.
The Roku agreement comes after WarnerMedia shook Hollywood by deciding to put all of Warner Bros.’ 2021 films on HBO Max on the same day they hit theaters.
The idea is that having blockbuster movies — including “Dune,” a “Space Jam” reboot and a fourth “Matrix” — will draw users to HBO Max. The decision also angered filmmakers such as Christopher Nolan and theater owners including AMC Entertainment who see it as a threat to their business.
The movies will be available at no extra charge to HBO Max subscribers.
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