Amazon has hit out at AT&T for not providing access via Prime Video on its new streaming app, HBO Max, as reported by Deadline. HBO Max launched on the 27th May, announcing distribution deals with the likes of Comcast but has left out tech giants Amazon and Roku.
While many customers will receive HBO Max at no extra charge, Amazon has claimed that AT&T is 'choosing to deny' 5 million customers access to the platform. This drama between the two companies is set in the backdrop of increasing tension between tech and media companies. The streaming boom is causing conflict over which party controls customer experience and this is a symptom of this.
HBO Denying 50% Customers of Content?
When HBO Max was announced it came with a number of distribution deals. However, it notably missed out Roku and Amazon leaving many customers behind. Back in 2014 stand-alone streaming app HBO Now and Amazon agreed to a deal which provided Amazon customers with access to HBO Now. This deal accounts for around 50% of HBO's subscriber tally hence Amazon's dismay.
Roku was less aggressive in their response to the situation. A rep stated that the parties had not been able to reach a “mutually positive” deal. However, Roku is committed "helping HBO Max in the future" to scale their business. HBO Max offers a catalogue of extended content including the complete Harry Potter series. Although Amazon customers will not be able to access the app AT&T TV customers will be able to for free for a year.
Increased Tension Between Media and Tech Giants
This drama between Amazon and AT&T over HBO Max is all part of growing tension between tech and media industries. Disputes over which parties now have control of the customer experience and data are growing as the streaming boom continues. The suggestion is that customers are likely to use the HBO Max app as a starting point. However, Amazon channels act as an interim step offering more freedom. If HBO Max subscriptions grow and exclusive content increases the balance of power will shift away from the likes of Amazon in the future.
This is not the first time Amazon has been caught up in similar drama surrounding streaming apps. When Disney+ launched the pair jousted over a distribution deal which almost hit the rocks. The pair only reached an agreement days before the streaming service launched demonstrating the tension at play in these discussions.
With the streaming boom far from over these sorts of disputes may well continue. As tech and media companies battle over control of the industry expect more bad-blood to rise over the coming years. HBO Max could just be the beginning of a shift in the landscape.