AT&T doubles down in HBO Max fight with Amazon

HBO Max
AT&T said that it ended the second quarter with 36.3 million HBO and HBO Max subscribers, up from 34.6 million HBO subscribers at the end of 2019. (HBO Max)

AT&T is still digging its heels in against Amazon over carriage of HBO Max.

AT&T CEO John Stankey said that his company has “tried repeatedly” to make HBO Max available to all customers using Amazon Fire devices including customers who have purchased HBO through Amazon Prime Video Channels.

“Unfortunately, Amazon has taken an approach of treating HBO Max and its customers differently than how they’ve chosen to treat other services and their customers,” said Stankey during today’s earnings call. “We’re glad to have agreements in place with, among others, Apple TV and Google Chromecast to give customers the right to stream HBO Max on those devices.”

HBO Max launched on May 27 and almost two months later it has yet to reach distribution agreements with Amazon or Roku. At the time, Amazon accused AT&T of turning its back on Prime Video Channels’ HBO subscribers.

“With a seamless customer experience, nearly 5 million HBO streamers currently access their subscription through Amazon’s Prime Video Channels. Unfortunately, with the launch of HBO Max, AT&T is choosing to deny these loyal HBO customers access to the expanded catalog,” an Amazon spokesperson said in May. “We believe that if you’re paying for HBO, you’re entitled to the new programming through the method you’re already using. That’s just good customer service and that’s a priority for us.”

RELATED: AT&T lost 954,000 DirecTV, AT&T TV Now subscribers in Q2

AT&T said that it ended the second quarter with 36.3 million HBO and HBO Max subscribers, up from 34.6 million HBO subscribers at the end of 2019. One month after launch, HBO Max had approximately 3 million retail subscribers and 4.1 million HBO subscribers had activated their HBO Max accounts. Of those, more than 1 million were wholesale subscribers through AT&T.

Stankey said his company is seeing more rapid HBO Max activation among subscribers who are already active users of the HBO digital platforms. “But we still have work to do to educate and motivate the exclusively linear subscriber base and we’ll continue to work with our wholesale partners to drive these activation rates.”

He also threw cold water on the idea of moving big Warner Bros. films like “Tenet” to the HBO Max platform. However, AT&T and WarnerMedia are looking into moving more premium content to its subscription streaming platform.

“I think there are going to be some shifts as we move forward,” Stankey said.

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