WarnerMedia reveals European launch dates for HBO Max – digital TV Europe

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WarnerMedia has revealed the launch dates for the first European launches of HBO Max.

The streaming platform will launch in Europe on October 26, with Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Spain and Andorra being the first six countries to have access to the service.

Next year, HBO Max will be available in 14 other territories where the media group already has a streaming presence: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania , Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Additional launches in the territory are also planned for next year.

Christina sulebakk

The offering will be showcased in Europe at a virtual launch event in October, where product and content offerings and pricing will be revealed.

HBO Max will organize content around five branded hubs: Warner Bros., HBO, DC, Cartoon Network, and Max Originals.

New experience

Speaking to DTVE ahead of the launch, HBO Europe chief executive Christina Sulebakk said HBO Max will provide a new experience for the company’s legacy streaming services in the Nordic countries, Spain and beyond.

“This is based on a whole new technology; we’re moving to the US tech stack, which will be the global stack for HBO Max, ”said Sulebakk, who added that the five hubs under the HBO Max umbrella brand would create a“ very different experience from today, especially in the past. ‘content discovery. perspective”.

Sulebakk said it was “very important to us” that the service had a distinct local feel in each market in which it is present, with a range of content based on “curation rather than algorithm”.

She said the HBO Max offering in Europe would look the same as it rolled out elsewhere, but the range of content would be very distinct, with the Turner Classic Movies and Adult Swim brands, which are present in Latin America, absent in Europe. Sulebakk said WarnerMedia has no plans to roll out an ad-supported tier in Europe, as it has in the United States.

Complex market

HBO Max’s range of content will differ from market to market not only as part of a plan to meet local preferences, but because WarnerMedia has licensing agreements in place with third-party operators, removing the ability to offer content that might otherwise help fuel the streamer’s subscriber acquisition efforts.

“Europe is quite complex,” Sulebakk said. “It’s not in Latin America that we can go everywhere from day one. We have strong existing partners in the market.

These partners include Sky, the main pay-TV provider in three of the largest European markets, and Orange’s OCS, a major presence in a fourth.

“We have a very strong relationship with Sky in the UK, Germany and Italy and we value these partnerships,” said Sulebakk. She said there were “no short-term plans” for HBO to launch in these markets.

Elsewhere, WarnerMedia continues to license rights to third-party players, most recently including Amedia in Russia, where HBO Max content will be part of the latter’s Amediateka streaming offering.

“We did not exclude [launching HBO Max in] all markets, including Russia, but our roadmap is quite busy, ”Sulebakk said. She said the company will look not only at the licensing landscape in each country, but a combination of factors before deciding when or if it wants to go ahead. She said the focus is on building “a roadmap that looks achievable” at this point.

The first territories of this roadmap – the Nordic countries and Spain – are among the most competitive streaming environments in Europe. However, Sulebakk is convinced that replacing existing streaming proposals in the HBO market with HBO Max will allow WarnerMedia to compete effectively with its US peers and powerful local players such as Viasat.

“We’re launching a whole new service and consumers are going to see it,” she said, noting the addition of the Warner Bros. catalog. especially as a gamechanger.

“We receive the DC catalog and the Warner Bros. catalog. We are producing local originals and we want to invest in more drama and unscripted content, ”she said.

In addition to content from WarnerMedia and the development of new originals, HBO Max will also exploit the proven appeal of third-party acquisitions such as The Handmaid’s Tale, Vikings and Billion.

The streamer also aims to produce a dozen scripted shows and the same number of unscripted shows for each of its markets, with an emphasis on highly attractive content.

Aggressive pricing strategy

Pricing will also be a key part of HBO Max’s competitive strategy in all markets. “We’re also competitively priced,” Sulebakk said, adding that HBO Max “will appeal to multiple audiences”.

“We are going to have an aggressive pricing strategy because we want to make the product available among different socio-demographic groups and it is important to offer an attractive price in the market,” she said.

“We believe these markets are not yet fully penetrated, and we are still embracing the competition.”

The company is also looking for new distribution channels for the service, partnerships and direct to home being seen as complementary.

HBO Europe works with several partners in the Nordic market, including Telenor, while in Spain, HBO España has a close distribution partnership with Vodafone which Sulebakk says will be transferred to the new service. “We welcome both wholesalers and direct consumers,” she said. “We will assess whether we want to have one or more partners – we believe in the partnership model.”

HBO Max will also benefit from a more complete Android and iOS experience which should boost its direct-to-home streaming offering. “We believe the consumer should be able to get the product both over mobile and broadband. We’ve never had this full iOS and Android experience before, and it’s new, ”she said.

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