HBO Max in NZ? Fuggedaboudid!

With Sky having smoothly completely its merger of Neon with Lightbox, and Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+ and Disney+ well established in NZ, don’t hold your breath for HBO Max to surface here anytime soon.

As the streamer’s newly appointed head of HBO Max International, former Hulu bigwig Johannes Larcher will oversee HBO Max’s global roll-out, starting next year in Latin America, with other territories to follow.

But don’t expect NZ to be among them. Larcher may profess wanting to make HBO Max an “indispensable streaming service around the world”.

But as Deadline observed when reporting his appointment: “HBO is yet to reveal launch plans for other territories, though it is likely that the UK will not be a priority given the company’s content partnership with Sky.”

The same will be true of this market, given Sky already promotes SoHo as “the home of HBO” and HBO’s library is the streaming backbone of the reinvigorated Neon.

Sky has a multi-year deal with HBO as does TVNZ with its parent company, WarnerMedia.

Unless Sky and TVNZ are spent forces by the time these lucrative pacts are due for renewal, it’s hard to see why, in a market as small and competitive as NZ, HBO would squander these to bother with its own streaming service (TVNZ OnDemand will stream HBO Max’s first scripted series Love Life this month).

We’ve already seen this happen across the Tasman, where WarnerMedia has just renewed its multi-year agreement with Foxtel, confirming it “as the continuing exclusive Home of HBO in Australia“.

“The agreement covers programming from WarnerMedia’s Warner Bros, HBO, HBO Max and WarnerMedia networks, and allows Foxtel to play the content on its broadcast and on-demand platforms,” Variety reports.

It also includes a new agreement to co-produce original local content in Australia.

“We are pleased that after working together for almost 25 years we can announce an expansion of our relationship, not only with Warner Bros and HBO, but with the extended WarnerMedia family,” Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany said.

Warner Bros Worldwide Television Distribution president Jeffrey R. Schlesinger pointed out the comprehensive deal was “a first for our company and a true exemplification of WarnerMedia’s international distribution strategy of putting the viewer first”.

The Australian Financial Review understands the Foxtel deal will expire in 2023, around the same time as WarnerMedia’s Sky UK deal.

“Sources said WarnerMedia was looking to sign a three-year deal on top of its existing local agreement, so that its contract in Australia would run out at the same time as in Europe, where it recently signed a five-year deal with Sky.

“It is understood the deal will allow WarnerMedia to pull back all its content after the new agreement finishes if it wants to launch HBO Max in Australia.”

So is an HBO Max NZ likely before then? To quote HBO icon Tony Soprano, “Fuggedaboudid.”

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3 Responses to “HBO Max in NZ? Fuggedaboudid!”

  1. What about Hulu, Philip? I see Disney wants to go international with Hulu, I hope we get it here 🙂

  2. I do think you’ll see Hulu here before HBO Max, Trevor. Disney has been the most ambitious of the traditional studios, acquiring companies like 20th Century Fox and Hulu as part of a global dominance strategy. It already has Disney+ up and running here and it would be easy to bundle Hulu with the service as it does in the US. But because of the tangle of programming rights in this territory for much of the content on Hulu US, Disney would need to crank up original Hulu commissions, as Netflix did to lessen its reliance on licensed product. And COVID-19 has temporarily put a spanner in the works of that strategy (hence Little Fires Everywhere unexpectedly being licensed globally to Amazon Prime Video). According to this report, Disney’s plan to expand Hulu internationally next year has been shelved because of its challenging leverage/cash position. “We’ve got no plans immediately to make any investment in that business internationally,” a top executive says. So looks like it’s back to Neon and Netflix, Trevor …

  3. Thanks Philip, sounds like we will be waiting for awhile but it does look more promising. I notice HBO Max has got The Flintstones, I hope we will see it in New Zealand, it was one of my favourite shows growing up 🙂

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