HBO Max, despite some rumblings earlier this month about a potentially imminent deal, is still not available on Roku, which calls into question whether cord-cutters or others those dependent on the Roku platform for entertainment, will have access to Wonder Woman 1984 when it arrives on the platform on Christmas Day. And that’s not to mention the entire Warner Brothers movie slate for 2021, which will be debuting on HBO Max throughout the year.
WarnerMedia, HBO Max’s parent company, did announce one new capability for the streaming service-it is now available on Comcast’s X1 and Xfinity Flex platforms, starting Tuesday. This means that Roku users who subscribe to Comcast will have a way to watch HBO Max, on their TVs, providing another workaround.
In addition to that, Comcast customers will be available to voice-activate HBO Max, and also ask for specific shows. The company specifically touted that the new functionality is ready ahead of the arrival of Wonder Woman, which will be HBO Max’s first-ever 4K film when it debuts in ten days, while also transmitting in HDR 10, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. And programs from HBO Max will be available in the “collections” of content available on the Comcast platform.
Comcast subscribers have had access to HBO Max ever since the day of its launch earlier this year, but the new launch marks the first time that such subscribers have had access to the service directly through set-top boxes. When the deal was announced in May, WarnerMedia said that “existing Xfinity HBO customers will have access to HBO Max beginning today at no additional cost via the HBO Max app and website while the companies work to quickly bring the HBO Max app to the award-winning Xfinity X1 platform along with the recently launched Xfinity Flex.”
“The addition of the HBO Max app is another example of how we make it easier for customers to find their favorite live, on demand or streamed entertainment— all accessible with the award-winning Xfinity Voice Remote,” Rebecca Heap, Comcast’s Senior Vice President, Video and Entertainment, said in a statement.
“Since launching HBO Max, our teams have worked closely to deliver an HBO Max experience that would provide more frictionless access to Xfinity X1 and Flex customers, and we’re thrilled to debut the app today,” Jennifer Mirgorod, Head of Sales and Account Management, WarnerMedia Distribution, said in a separate press release from the company. “Millions of Xfinity customers can now easily explore all that HBO Max has to offer with a simple voice command.”
The move to put all of its HBO Max’s 2021 programming on HBO Max, in addition to theaters, has drawn a great deal of fire from many partners of the company, including Tenet director Christopher Nolan—who slammed HBO Max as “the worst streaming service”—the movie theater company AMC, and even some production partners on some of the movies themselves. It was soon clear that the company had not given any of them a heads-up before the move was announced.
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.