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The battle for the global streaming market is a “three-horse race,” and HBO Max plans to be one of those three, said Johannes Larcher, head of HBO Max International, during a keynote session Tuesday at the international television market MIPTV.
Larcher made a hard pitch for the Warner Bros. streaming service, currently available in 61 territories worldwide, but with plans to hit 190 territories by 2026. HBO Max this month launched in a further 15 territories in Europe, including the Netherlands, Portugal, Hungary, Poland and Romania.
Fueling this expansion, Larcher said, will be a growing slate of international originals. HBO produced some 10 European originals in 2019 but, by 2023, has plans to deliver around 40.
HBO Max on Tuesday announced a second-season renewal of the Spanish comedy series One Way or Another. LACOproductora and Mediapro’s Globomedia is producing the Madrid-based series for HBO Max in Spain, with Jorge Pezzi and Javier Pons as executive producers. Miguel Salvat, Camilla Curtis and Antony Root are executive producers Manuela Burló Moreno, who created, wrote and directed One Way or Another, will return for the second season. Season two will begin principal photography in Spain this spring.
Larcher argued that the rising cost of content spending means, for the big players, there is no choice but to go global. Pointing to Netflix’s massive increase in production spending, with plans for an additional $9 billion in programming spending in 2026 over 2021 — “which would buy you almost 700 episodes of The Crown and about 50 Spider-Man: No Way Homes,” he noted — that the only way to afford that level of content spend is “if you leverage that investment over an ever-larger number of subscribers.”
Pointing again to streaming market leader Netflix, Larcher noted that around 95 percent of the streamer’s total growth now comes from outside the U.S. “All of us in this race are going global,” he said.
Larcher, however, was tight-lipped about the impact the $43 billion Discovery-WarnerMedia merger, set to close soon, would have on HBO Max internationally. There has been speculation that plans to merge Warner and Discovery’s streaming services HBO Max and Discovery+ in the U.S. will be repeated worldwide.
Discovery reported 22 million worldwide streaming customers at the end of 2021, while HBO Max and HBO ended 2021 with a combined 73.8 million global subscribers.
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