Exclusive: HBO Max talks up European roll-out, co-pros and female-skewing originals

WarnerMedia’s HBO Max is planning to “quickly and aggressively” expand into the streaming game, with execs outlining European launch plans and a focus on securing more female-skewing content aimed at a Gen Z demographic.

HBO Max has already revealed star-studded content offerings from high-profile talent such as Mindy Kaling and Greg Berlanti, as well as aggressive plays for catalogue fare such as South Park and Rick And Morty.

It is also co-producing on series with European partners such as Sky, as revealed by TBI, and earlier this week unveiled a new drama with Channel 4.

Sarah Aubrey

Sarah Aubrey, head of original content for HBO Max, said the service would launch with around 80 originals in total, made up of 50 HBO Max series and 30 shows from sibling HBO.

“It is huge number but Netflix has set the bar at a pace with new shows just for you. There is always something new to check out and that has accustomed viewers to wanting something new, I’d say, once a month if not sooner,” she told the Video Exchange Streaming event in London on Wednesday.

“And that isn’t just one demo, that is across all demographics. So yes it sounds a lot but if you look across a year and that we have to go from kids to adults then we feel confident it is a good amount to start with. And then, like all the platforms, we’ll launch and get data and see how people are watching.

“We will also have all of HBO’s new content so it will be a very robust slate of originals,” said Aubrey, who was appointed in the summer. The exec said she was keen to expand international co-productions, adding the partners outside of the US were a key part of the HBO Max ecosystem.

“The goal is to very quickly and aggressively get into this game in a way that it feels like if you want to be a part of this cultural conversation and have consistent new shows of quality, then you have to have HBO Max.”

With HBO content tending to skew older, Aubrey added that her focus was “primarily on 18-34’s, millennials and generation z just because HBO has such a robust slate.”

The service will launch next year in the US before being rolled out first into Latin America in 2021 and then Europe, where WarnerMedia execs will have to navigate a series of existing services and output deals.

HBO content is already piped via direct-to-consumer services in Spain and the Nordics with HBO España and HBO Nordics, while Sky recently unveiled an extended output deal in the UK.

Sandra Dewey, president of business operations and productions, said there would be a “bit of navigating the existing platforms and services and working out how quickly we can meld the pieces together,” adding that the company would focus on a Latin American launch first.

“We plan to roll out internationally and initially that push will be into Lat Am and then Europe. Unlike other platforms, we are already in business in lots of those places so part of our challenge is to harmonise that as we move forward,” she said. “But Europe is our second target in terms of these plans, because we know to succeed we have to succeed there.”

Tags: HBO Max

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