HBO Max launched back in late May, and for as long as the streaming service has been available, it’s been lacking something major: the ability to watch it on Roku devices. Due to the lack of an agreement between Roku and Warner Media parent company AT&T, HBO Max is not among the apps available on the platform, even though its predecessors, HBO Go and HBO Now, were reachable on Roku.
Editor's note: This article has been updated at the bottom with a new piece of information.
There’s been no reports of any progress towards an agreement, although Roku users got some hope in late September, when the company announced that its new devices, and updated old ones, would have AirPlay 2 support. This, tech media noticed at the time, would allow users to get HBO Max on their devices via AirPlay, rather than natively.
However per Streamable, Roku has been rolling out the new update, and it appears from those who have downloaded it that HBO Max is blocked from being viewed that way.
“Roku devices don’t appear to stream when using AirPlay from the HBO Max app. Additionally, when screen mirroring, HBO Max will just play audio on the Roku player,” the report said.
In the meantime, there are some workarounds. If you have a Roku and also, say, a PlayStation console attached to the same TV, you can watch HBO Max through the PlayStation, although this will not be the case with the upcoming PlayStation 5, per GameSpot. It’s also possible to cast HBO Max from a computer or mobile device to a TV via Chromecast.
Also this week, the executive in charge of HBO Max, Andy Forssell, gave an interview with Decider in which he was asked about the Roku/HBO Max impasse.
“A lot of those households also have an Apple TV or other device, so we’re not blocked out of those living rooms,” Forssell said. “In some cases, we are. We’ve already exceeded our goals for 2020, and we’re very happen with the outcomes thus far even without those devices. Expanding distribution to those devices will help us accelerate the growth of the service.”
AT&T, which is believed to be attempting to sell or spin off DirecTV, announced its quarterly earnings last week, announcing that it lost another 590,000 subscribers in the third quarter. The segment lost 897,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2020, and 886,000 in the second quarter.
The company reported revenue of $42.3 billion, down slightly from $44.6 billion the same period last year.
“We delivered a solid quarter with good subscriber momentum in our market focus areas of connectivity and software-based entertainment,” John Stankey, AT&T chief executive officer, said in the announcement.
Update: Per an HBO spokesperson, Roku has stated that "it’s early in their roll out of AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support but all apps that are AirPlay-enabled (like HBO Max) will work."
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. Image: Reuters