Finally! HBO Max and Roku Have a Deal
Streamers everywhere rejoice! HBO Max will be available on Roku devices beginning on Thursday, December 17
Ever since it launched at the end of May, HBO Max has had a big thing missing in its offerings: It hasn’t been available on Roku devices, the platform that, between standalone Roku boxes and Roku TVs, takes up a large percentage of the streaming market. This has been become more conspicuous as AT&T and Warner Media reached a deal with Amazon and later announced that first “Wonder Woman 1984,” and eventually its entire 2021 release slate, will come to HBO Max at the same time it arrives in theaters.
Now, at last, the standoff is over.
HBO Max and Roku announced Wednesday that they had reached an agreement to make HBO Max available on Roku devices beginning on Thursday, December 17. The HBO Max app will be available for download in the Roku Channel store, and for those who already subscribed to HBO through Roku, the app will automatically convert to that of HBO Max.
The sides did not say exactly what terms were agreed to. The deal was reached in time for the arrival of ‘Wonder Woman 1984,” both the highest-profile new HBO Max film and the first that will stream in 4K, on December 25.
“We believe that all entertainment will be streamed and we are thrilled to partner with HBO Max to bring their incredible library of iconic entertainment brands and blockbuster slate of direct to streaming theatrical releases to the Roku households with more than 100 million people that have made Roku the No. 1 TV streaming platform in America,” Scott Rosenberg, Senior Vice President, Platform Business, Roku, said in the announcement. “Reaching mutually beneficial agreements where Roku grows together with our partners is how we deliver an exceptional user experience at an incredible value for consumers and we are excited by the opportunity to deepen our longstanding relationship with the team at WarnerMedia.”
“HBO Max is an incredible product with an unparalleled content offering that puts the consumer at the center, and we’re thrilled that Roku users will be able to experience all the great stories HBO Max has to offer,” Tony Goncalves, Chief Revenue Officer of WarnerMedia, said in the announcement. “We’re breaking new ground in the months ahead, and we can’t wait to work with our longtime partners at Roku to build on our past successes and bring HBO Max’s best-in-class quality entertainment to Roku’s large and highly engaged audience.”
The deal comes the day after it was announced that HBO Max was available on Comcast’s X1 and Flex platforms. HBO had reached a deal with Comcast to make the service available to Comcast subscribers on the day of its launch back in May, but HBO Max hadn’t been available directly on set top boxes until then.
There have been other workarounds developed for those who use Roku, including plugging computers into TVs with HDMI cables, as well as watching HBO Max through Chromecast devices. Streamers were also beginning to get access to HBO Max this fall through AirPlay 2, once the Roku platform added that capability.
So HBO Max may still have movie theater owners, movie stars, production companies, and Christopher Nolan mad at them, but they’ve at least gladdened the hearts of Roku users.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.