Exclusive: WarnerMedia eyes major European markets as HBO Max expands

Mare Of Easttown

HBO Max could become available in major territories including France, the UK, Germany and Italy before existing output deals run out, TBI understands, as the US studio confirmed a further raft of European launches set for next year.

WarnerMedia will roll out HBO Max into seven additional countries including the Netherlands, Greece and Turkey in 2022, following the 26 October launch in the Nordics, Spain and Andorra, which marks the streamer’s European debut.

French focus

The US studio has been unable to launch the service more broadly across Europe – especially into major markets such as France, the UK, Germany and Italy – because of long-standing overall deals that see HBO content head to third parties.

Big Little Lies

A five-year pact was struck with Sky in 2019, providing the pay TV operator with HBO shows such as True Detective, Big Little Lies and Mare Of Easttown until 2025, while Orange in France has a similarly expansive programming pact, last renewed in 2017.

Those agreements had been expected to keep HBO Max from launching until the deals ran their full duration, but TBI understands that WarnerMedia is hopeful that the streamer could be rolled out before that, with a launch in France in the works for 2023.

Pricing & Warner Bros. windows

The more immediate focus for WarnerMedia, however, is the SVOD’s expansion in Estonia, Greece, Iceland, Latvia and Lithuania. These five countries, in addition to the Netherlands and Turkey, mark the first countries to receive HBO Max where the US studio has yet to launch a streaming service.

Speaking on a pre-recorded launch video released this morning, Johannes Larcher, head of HBO Max International, said more details of the additional territories would be unveiled “in due course”.

Johannes Larcher

Larcher said WarnerMedia aimed to launch in 190 countries by 2026. On top of the 40 in the Americas, the initial European launches will up this number to 60. He said that “engagement on our platform has been strong” in Latin America, where HBO Max is already available.

Also speaking on the launch video, Christina Sulebakk, GM of HBO EMEA, said HBO Max will make Warner Bros. films available on the platform 45 days after their theatrical release. “Films in the cinema now will be on your home screen just six weeks later,” she said.

Pricing of the service in the initial launch markets will also be substantially below the level of the current streaming offerings. HBO Max will be available for SEK89 in Sweden, NOK89 in Norway, DKK79 in Denmark and €8.99 in Finland and Spain. There will also be an annual pass that gives subscribers 12 months of access for the price of eight.

Pricing for CEE will be announced closer to the launch date in those markets.

Shows & series

New content on the service will include Just Like That, a follow on from Sex And The City, that will air at the time of the European launch, while Game Of Thrones: House Of The Dragon will be one of the more highly anticipated shows to air on the streamer next year.

WarnerMedia EMEA and Asia president Priya Dogra added that HBO Max would be the home of all eight Harry Potter movies, along with “thousands of hours of content” including local programming.

Priya Dogra

Movies coming up include Space Jam: A New Legacy, The Suicide Squad and Dune. New series include a new series of Curb Your Enthusiasm and House of the Dragon. Upcoming HBO Max originals include Ridley Scott’s Raised By Wolves and a reboot of Gossip Girl.

HBO Max will also be the home of DC content including new series Peacemaker, while local European originals will include Beforeigners, Kamikaze, Swedish comedy Lust and Spanish drama Venga Juan.

WarnerMedia confirmed earlier this year that the service will launch in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Portugal in early 2022.

The company already has streaming services operating in these territories, as with this month’s launch markets.

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