John Oliver Mockingly Promotes HBO Max on 'Last Week Tonight': "It's Not HBO. It's Just TV"

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver March 17 - Publicity - H 2019
Lloyd Bishop/HBO

John Oliver turned a segment about the NBA's woes in China into a mocking promotion for new streaming service HBO Max on Sunday's Last Week Tonight.

The drama between China and the NBA started when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted — and then deleted — a message that showed support for Hong Kong anti-government protesters, saying afterward that he did not intend to offend any of the team's Chinese fans or sponsors.

A short time after Morey posted that statement, the NBA said it was "regrettable" that the deleted tweet offended many in China. And all that followed several companies in China, including some of the NBA's major business partners there, lashing out over Morey's original tweet.

On Sunday, Oliver noted on his HBO show how much business the basketball league does in China, noting that there is even an NBA China division that put out a videotaped message featuring several NBA stars wishing residents of China a happy new year.

"There's nothing more cringe-worthy than watching someone forced to engage in promotional bullshit to appease the whims of their parent company," Oliver said. "And speaking of parent companies, that actually reminds me…."

He then turned to face another camera, where he read, in a mocking voice, a script promoting HBO Max, which launches in the spring.

"Have you heard about HBO Max? Looking to add another app and monthly charge to watch things? HBO Max has you covered," he said. "It's gonna have all your favorites — reruns of The Big Bang Theory, reruns of Friends, reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. You can pay for all of those through HBO Max. HBO Max — it's not HBO, it's just TV."

It's not the first time Oliver has mocked his parent company. He frequently pokes fun at HBO owner AT&T, calling it his "business daddy" and criticizing what he calls its poor customer service.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.