In the days before its launch, AT&T and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max reached distribution deals with most major platforms, with the exception of three: Amazon, Roku and Comcast. While most reports seemed to indicate that a deal to put the new service on Amazon Fire devices would not be in place, Roku was reportedly in talks right down to the wire with AT&T.
No such deal was announced in time for HBO Max’s launch on Wednesday, but the company did reach an agreement Wednesday, with Comcast.
“Comcast and WarnerMedia today announced a deal to bring HBO Max to Xfinity X1 and Flex customers,” HBO Max said in a press release Wednesday afternoon.
“As part of the deal, 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, a 4K streaming device that is included with Xfinity Internet. Additionally, new customers will be able to purchase HBO Max directly through Xfinity in the coming days.”
The deal is similar to those AT&T announced last week with several cable and other pay-TV companies, such as Verizon, Cox and Altice, while also agreeing to make HBO Max available to Sony PlayStation users.
Even though AT&T and Comcast are competitors on various fronts, the deal was actually HBO Max’s second agreement with Comcast of the day. The service had not been expected to include the movies from the Harry Potter movie series at launch, but the movies were there when HBO Max came online. This was due to a licensing agreement with Comcast-owned Universal, which retains the rights to show the “Harry Potter” films on its cable channels. It’s not clear if the two deals were reached at the same time or not, but the Harry Potter films is not mentioned in the Wednesday afternoon press release.
As for Roku and Amazon Fire users still unable to get HBO Max, the service remains available on mobile devices, and those who have a Chromecast or other casting technologies can get the programming to their TVs by that means.
In the meantime, various unhappy Roku customers have complained on Twitter about the lack of availability of HBO Max.
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.