You have to love when CEOs use public statements to try to sway public opinion to force some behind-the-scenes motions. In this case, we're talking about AT&T President and COO John Stankey, who's gearing up for the pretty major launch of HBO Max on May 27 — just two weeks away.
And today he dropped a little bit of a bombshell at the J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Communications Conference, saying that it's entirely possible that HBO Max might not be available in the Amazon Appstore on launch day. And that means no HBO Max on Amazon Fire TV devices, or tablets. (Which would be weird, given that HBO Now, HBO Go and AT&T TV are all on Amazon devices.)
Here's the full quote, from AT&T's transcript of the Q&A (emphasis ours):
As you've heard, and we publicly disclosed, we're going to be available on a broad cross-section of distributors, which I think will help the momentum of the product coming out the door. We've been pretty clear on where that's going, and I'm pleased to say we're going to be in virtually all app stores or maybe one exception. It looks like we may not be in the Amazon Fire app store when all of this is said and done. But I feel really good about the distribution dynamic, the availability of the product. Those who are HBO subscribers, who can immediately move into Max, there's going to be a really strong push day 1. I think it's going to generate a lot of word of mouth socially. It's going to generate a lot of activity. And then what we're doing for promotions of attaching the AT&T products, I think, will be another boost that's going to be really beneficial.
Sound a little familiar? It should. Because it was about a month or so before the launch of Disney+ back in November 2019 that we heard the exact same thing. Only that time it was from a Wall Street Journal report, which said the holdup was over advertising fees. And know what else AT&T owns besides a ton of content? A pretty hefty advertising system in the form of Xandr.
The Amazon/Disney standoff ended five days before Disney+ finally launched on Nov. 12. So don't be surprised if we see HBO Max on Amazon Fire TV devices and tablets on May 27. Or not. It's all just money, after all.
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