AT&T defends HBO Max’s exclusion from data caps

AT&T's Tony Goncalves said the company is hopeful it can reach HBO Max distribution agreements with Amazon and Roku. (HBO Max)

AT&T has defended its decision to exclude HBO Max from counting against AT&T wireless subscribers’ data caps while competing streaming services don’t get the same treatment.

The company said the move will save money for millions of consumers and that it’s not unlike what some of its competitors already do.

“This is based on a Sponsored Data arrangement and is a program we offer on the same terms to any entities who wish to sponsor data for their customers. This is similar to arrangements many of our competitors have, we continue to support an open internet and have done so for more than a decade,” an AT&T spokesperson told FierceVideo.

Indeed, T-Mobile’s Binge On program for its Simple Choice wireless subscribers allows them to YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Sling, ESPN, SHOWTIME, Starz, and more without data charges applying.

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The Verge confirmed earlier today that HBO Max will be getting the Sponsored Data arrangement while Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video and other competitors will still count against data caps for AT&T wireless subscribers. The Sponsored Data program is available to those services but since AT&T owns HBO Max, it’s essentially like the company is paying itself, the publication pointed out.

The topic of data cap exclusions came up during The Verge’s recent podcast discussion with Tony Goncalves, who took the lead for HBO Max in 2019. During the conversation, he also addressed HBO Max’s absence from Amazon and Roku platforms.

“There are certain business models that exist and we each have our own. I think we’re just starting from a very different place. We have 30 plus million existing subscribers that have already gone in their pocket and voted to subscribe to a product and we’re making that product better. We think the value proposition is there. We just want to be treated fairly,” said Goncalves. He said HBO Max wants the same business model as Disney+ and other apps that are on those platforms.

“I’m hopeful that we’ll get there with the consumer in mind. We just didn’t get there on day one,” he said.