HBO Max: the new streaming service is apparently not coming to the UK

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It looks as though HBO’s newly-expanded deal with Sky means we won’t be getting HBO Max in Britain.

If you’re losing track of where we are with all the upcoming streaming services heading our way, Disney+ lands in the US in November, with a UK release set for ‘Q1 2020’ (which is exact as it’s getting). Apple+ meanwhile is pretty much ready to go. Universal is preparing Peacock for some point next year.

And then there’s Warner Media with its HBO Max service. Whilst this is primarily going to be for television material, it’s also getting films too, not least the next Melissa McCarthy film, Super Intelligence. More on that here.

But there’s a puzzle where the UK rollout of HBO Max is concerned. The service had a formal posh launch in Los Angeles yesterday, where it was confirmed that it’ll be launching in the US in May 2020. But when it came time to clarify the UK release? Well, it may not be entirely straightforward.

That’s because of HBO’s existing relationship with Sky in the UK, with whom it inked a new five-year deal this month. That deal sees Sky get exclusive rights to HBO series in the likes of the UK, Ireland, Germany and Italy. Sky is also set to co-produce shows for HBO Max too.

At the presentation in the US yesterday, WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey addresses the expansion of the HBO Max outside of America. Some markets will be getting their own localised version of the service, he confirmed. But in other cases, it plans to expand by “leaning on our licensing relationships with key partners in territories where we believe market conditions warrant a different approach”.

Or: where market conditions favour doing a five-year deal with Sky, it seems. That’s presumably a more lucrative option.

Unless I’m reading this incorrectly – and Digital TV Europe seems to have reached the same conclusion – HBO Max will thus not be launching in the UK, at least in the near future. That instead, material for the service will be shown via Sky in the UK, and in territories across Europe where Sky offers its services.

As we hear more, we’ll let you know…

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