The new HBO Max streaming service launches today, at $14.99/month. Developed at the company’s engineering offices in Seattle, New York and Atlanta, the new service offers access to 10,000 hours of content including original HBO shows, popular movies and classic television series via major cable providers and tech platforms including Android, Apple, Windows, Macs, PlayStation and Xbox.
HBO confirmed this morning that it does not have deals in place with Amazon and Roku to support HBO Max. HBO’s parent, WarnerMedia, is part of telecom giant AT&T, and John Stankey, the incoming AT&T CEO, addressed the issue during an appearance on CNBC this morning.
“I think we must be doing something right if somebody believes we’re now starting to be more in conflict with their business,” Stankey said on CNBC. “So I don’t necessarily take that as a bad sign.”
In the case of HBO’s Seattle outpost, that business conflict would include the competition for technical talent. HBO has been hiring aggressively in Seattle, and the company confirmed this week that it’s on track to double the size of its engineering office in the city this year, as previously reported by GeekWire.
HBO’s office is a few blocks from the Amazon headquarters in downtown Seattle. A LinkedIn search shows more than 200 people working for HBO in the Seattle region, including several senior engineers and technical leaders who worked at Amazon previously.
Stankey, the former WarnerMedia CEO, said on CNBC, “I do find it a bit ironic, when I think back to the litigation that occurred prior to the Time Warner-AT&T transaction closing, that the concern was about withholding content from traditional distributors.”
Now, he said, there are “new technology distributors from the digital age who are looking not to distribute products. And I think that dynamic is an important one to understand. It just shows you how fast the markets are moving and how we have to respond to those changes.”
Update: An Amazon spokesperson offered this statement via email: “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. 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.”
In short, Amazon wants HBO Max to be part of the HBO subscription offered through Prime Video Channels, to deliver a seamless experience and full value to customers.
Subscribers to the standalone HBO Now streaming service will be switched automatically to the new HBO Max, but that option is not available to who have the separate HBO Go account through an existing cable or satellite TV subscription.
HBO’s Seattle tech hub dates back to 2012, initially serving as a key center for early work on the HBO Go streaming service. Two years later, amid reports of internal squabbles at the office, the company backed away from internal work and opted to license third-party technology to power the HBO Go platform, before returning to expansion mode in 2015 in advance of the separate HBO Now launch.
Here’s the company’s official primer on the differences between these services.