HBO Max to launch in Latin America, unveils ‘free’ US deal

HBO Max is set to expand into Latin America after the streamer’s parent AT&T-owned WarnerMedia agreed a deal to take full control of HBO Ole Partners.

WarnerMedia will acquire Ole’s minority stake in HBO Ole Partners, the joint venture set up in 1991 between WarnerMedia and Ole Communications, which will hand it 100% ownership of all HBO, MAX, Cinemax and HBO Go services in Spanish-speaking Latin America and the Caribbean.

Financial details have not been revealed and the deal remains subject to regulatory approvals, but once completed, HBO Ole Partners will fall under the remit of Gerhard Zeiler, chief revenue officer at WarnerMedia & president, WarnerMedia International Networks.

Zeiler said the deal “will allow us to bring localised versions” of HBO Max to consumers in the region, although the ownership structure of HBO Brasil Partners, another joint venture between the companies, remains unchanged.

WarnerMedia has an option to acquire that business, but said it was not doing so at present because “additional, direct investment in Brazil is not currently attractive to us because of the existing regulatory uncertainty in the country.” The US company added that Ole Communications would continue its basic channel distribution business in Latin America.

Deal with AT&T, blooming content offer

John Stankey

HBO Max is also set to be offered to existing US subscribers of HBO at no extra cost when the streamer launches next year, according to John Stankey, chief operating officer at WarnerMedia owner AT&T.

In an interview with Reuters, Stankey said around 10 million customers of its services such as DirecTV and AT&T TV Now who are HBO subscribers will gain access to the streamer for free, while the service could also be included in AT&T wireless plans.

AT&T is aiming to secure 80 million global subscribers for HBO Max by 2025, with 50 million in the US alone but it faces intense competition from incumbent Netflix and services such as Apple, whose service will immediately become available to those buying a new device from the tech giant.

Disney, meanwhile, struck a deal last week that will see telco giant Verizon offering access to the Mouse House’s new streamer, set to launch on 12 November.

HBO Max has been rapidly expanding its slate over recent months for the forthcoming service, which will offer around 10,000 hours at launch including shows such as Friends and Sesame Street, as well as CNN originals and series from talkshow icon Ellen DeGeneres.

On Friday, HBO Max unveiled its latest offerings, an 8 x 60 minute competition series that attempts to uncover America’s best florist and a doc about the late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain.

Full Bloom will feature themed challenges centered around a unique stem of the floristry world including fashion, art, events and weddings, with contestant’s designs and creations judged by an expert panel. The show has been created and produced by Eureka Productions, with Chris Culvenor, Paul Franklin and Wes Dening serving as executive producers.

HBO Max is also working with WarnerMedia sibling CNN Films and Focus Features on a documentary film about the life of Bourdain, who died last year aged 61.

The as-yet untitled show will be directed and produced by Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom) and will be first released in theaters worldwide before premiering on TV via CNN and on HBO Max. CNN Films and HBO Max will executive produce the film. Neville’s Tremolo Productions will produce.

The project is the third collaboration between CNN Films and HBO Max, with the two previously working together on The Scoop (working title) and Persona (working title).

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