Bell Media, Warner Bros. Sign Deal to Bring HBO Max Programming to Canada

Courtesy of HBO Max
Bob Greenblatt Unveils HBO Max

WarnerMedia's bet on an international expansion to keep its new streaming service's revenues growing will start with a Canadian licensing deal.

Bell Media has signed an exclusive deal with Warner Bros. International Television Distribution to bring original programming from WarnerMedia’s HBO Max to Canada, beginning in 2020.

The arrangement encompasses new scripted series produced by the divisions of the Warner Bros. Television Group for WarnerMedia's upcoming Netflix competitor, and ensures no standalone HBO Max service launches north of the border. The agreement also extends Bell Media’s long-standing programming deal with HBO, which sees popular series like Game of Thrones and Big Little Lies already stream on the Crave online video service north of the border.

The new alliance with HBO Max will make new original series like the DC dramas Green Lantern and Strange Adventures, Mindy Kailing’s College Girl, Tooned Out and the multicamera comedy DC Super Hero High available to Crave subscribers and Bell Media’s stable of CTV-branded channels.

Series made by indie producers for HBO Max will not be part of the Warner Bros. TV distribution deal with Bell Media.  HBO Max has greenlit more than a dozen original scripted series and has ordered pilots for several others that will live alongside library content from WarnerMedia properties including HBO, TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and the Warner Bros. studio.

HBO Max has also landed the massive 23-season library to Comedy Central hit South Park in a deal that was expected to be worth as much as $500 million.

The deal renewal with Bell Media also extends the pay TV rights for Warner Bros first-run feature films. "Bell Media has been an important partner with its channels and platforms bringing HBO originals to viewers in Canada for many years," said Robert Greenblatt, chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and direct-to-consumer in a statement, as the studio extends its long-term relationship to new series produced for HBO Max.

Bell Media president Randy Lennox added in his own statement: "With this new HBO Max agreement, we are expanding our long and successful partnership with HBO and Warner Bros. and demonstrating this commitment to premium content in an era of increasing competition."

The HBO Max deal also extends Bell Media's strategy of curation and aggregation of top Hollywood studio brands as it also has an exclusive content deal with CBS' Showtime and streams Starz content on Crave. The Canadian media giant is touting the HBO Max deal as signing up a new U.S. streaming partner and charging Crave subscribers no additional cost for the premium content, at least for now.

The HBO Max content is expected to complement Crave's current offerings as it targets a broader, younger and more female content focus, while also facing down Netflix and other U.S. digital platforms in the Canadian market. Bell Media will also have the option to experiment with windows as it, for example, possibly premieres an HBO Max series episode on its CTV Drama cable channel before it launches on Crave a day later.

The announcement of the Canadian HBO Max deal followed the WarnerMedia-owned streaming platform's formal unveiling oTuesday night. The forthcoming streaming service will bow in May 2020, cost $15 per month and will be filled with 10,000 hours of programming from across the media conglomerate’s divisions, including TV hits like FriendsBig Bang Theory and South Park; Warner Bros. films like The Joker; the full HBO catalog; and originals like Ansel Elgort drama Tokyo Vice, a Grease spinoff and a Gossip Girl sequel.