HBO Max Will Eventually Include Live Content, Including Sports & News

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AT&T has now provided an update on HBO Max explaining that part of the long-term goal is to offer some form of live TV through the WarnerMedia-based streaming service.

The information on this was provided during the release of the company's second quarter earnings.

AT&T did not particularly go into much detail on this aspect of HBO Max, but did say that consumers "should assume" the service to include "live elements" in due course.

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How much live content is a different question and AT&T's Randall Stephenson seemed to indicate the live elements would be more focused on live sports (including premium sports) and live news.

This is an interesting development as up until now the narrative from AT&T has pointed towards more of a Netflix-like service that provides access to on-demand content owned by AT&T. The suggestion the service will also now include live content adds a further dimension to the service and in principle could alter how the high price of HBO Max might be interpreted by potential customers.

What seems likely here is that HBO Max is likely to offer access to some of the channels that AT&T owns. This might result in some overlap between HBO Max and the company's DIRECTV solutions, but that overlap could be minimal if the focus is in particular on sports and news.

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For example, AT&T already offers a service called WatchTV and is designed to significantly undercut the cost of DIRECTV NOW, but the selection of channels on offer result in a different value proposition compared to DIRECTV NOW. It stands to reason AT&T could do something similar in this respect with HBO Max providing limited access to live TV and only enough that it does not impede on the company's other live TV services.

During the earnings call explanation Stephenson did focus in on Turner-related channels and content in particular.

It is also worth noting that the phrase used by Stephenson was "live elements" and it could be the case this is not the same as "live TV" in the sense many might interpret the meaning to be.

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It is not a secret that AT&T is looking to offer a compelling and unique product with HBO Max and it might be that certain events are somehow integrated into the service and interface, more so than actual rolling content on dedicated live TV channels that the user can access.

Whatever live content AT&T has in store for HBO Max, it should be made clear this is something that's much further down the pipeline. Stephenson started off this portion of the earnings call by specifically stating this won't be available during the "early stages of HBO Max," suggesting the finer details are still some way away from being finalized let alone made available. This in turn could also mean that AT&T changes its mind on this feature, although Stephenson did make the case that this live content will be a "really important element" for the future of HBO Max.

Speaking of which, HBO Max is not expected to become generally available until next year, but the company has now confirmed it will be revealing more about the service on October 29, 2019.

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