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With the clock ticking down to the Christmas Day release of Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max, WarnerMedia and Roku have hammered out a deal that will ensure millions of Americans can watch the tentpole film from the comfort of their homes.
The $15-per-month streaming service will be available on Roku devices beginning Dec. 17.
Scott Rosenberg, senior vp platform business at Roku, said in a statement that he was “thrilled” to bring the HBO Max library to Roku’s more than 100 million U.S. users. “Reaching mutually beneficial agreements where Roku grows together with our partners is how we deliver an exceptional user experience at an incredible value for consumers and we are excited by the opportunity to deepen our longstanding relationship with the team at WarnerMedia,” he added.
Roku, the most widely used connect-TV platform in the U.S., is the last major distributor to add HBO Max to its lineup, giving the fledgling service a much wider potential audience as it looks to grow beyond its current 12.6 million active accounts.
When HBO Max launched May 27, it did so without distribution deals with Roku and Amazon. That meant that the streamer — which is offered as a free upgrade to existing HBO subscribers — was not available to some 70 percent of connected-TV users in the United States. NBCUniversal faced a similar dilemma with the July launch of Peacock. Both sets of negotiations were said to revolve around issues relating to who would control the content experience and how much advertising inventory the companies would share with Roku.
NBCU ultimately was able to get a deal done with Roku, and WarnerMedia announced in November that HBO Max would be coming to Amazon Fire platforms. But the company was still hashing out terms of a deal with Roku when it announced that it would release Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max and in theaters Dec. 25. (It followed up the surprise move with the even bigger reveal that its entire 2021 slate — including highly anticipated titles like Dune and The Suicide Squad — would follow the same release strategy.)
For the past several months, HBO subscribers who streamed the network’s programming via a Roku device were not able to upgrade to the full HBO Max offering, which includes TV shows and movies like Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Crazy Rich Asians and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The service has been slow to gain subscribers, adding 8.6 million active accounts in its first four months. But its availability on Amazon devices and its recent programming lineup, including HBO original The Undoing and Anne Hathaway starrer The Witches, have boosted its momentum, helping it add 4 million new active accounts since the end of September.
WarnerMedia chief revenue officer Tony Goncalves said in a statement that he, too, was “thrilled” to strike the deal, adding, “We’re breaking new ground in the months ahead, and we can’t wait to work with our longtime partners at Roku to build on our past successes and bring HBO Max’s best-in-class quality entertainment to Roku’s large and highly engaged audiences.”
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