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HBO Max does HBO Go, a shot at Roku and Fire TV with you in the crossfire

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Game of Thrones streams on HBO Max and HBO Go – but not when HBO Go disappears on Saturday.


HBO, the jewel of AT & T’s WarnerMedia unit, wins its various apps – HBO Go, HBO Now and the new HBO max. However, this won’t make things much easier, especially if you’re a Roku or Amazon Fire TV user. As of Saturday, you may be in the middle of a power struggle for the future of television.

HBO Max was launched in late May as the newer, larger streaming app of the premium cable network. With twice as many shows and movies at the same price of $ 15 a month, it is essentially meant to replace the company’s earlier apps, HBO Go and HBO Now. HBO Go is the network’s streaming app that regular pay TV HBO customers can watch over the Internet. And HBO Now is the station’s standalone streaming option that allows users to stream HBO without pay TV bundles.

But after Friday, HBO Go will be gone – and that will get some Roku and Amazon Fire TV users in trouble. Since HBO Max has no distribution contracts with these two device manufacturers, it cannot be streamed on the devices that are the country’s most popular TV streaming devices. Anyone currently streaming HBO Go on a Roku or Fire TV will not have the simple app to replace it.

“It is essentially a new version of the centuries-old debate over whether content or distribution is king,” wrote Lightshed analyst Rich Greenfield in a note after HBO Max announced its plan, its Go and Now apps to leak. “While the headline … is to remove consumer confusion about HBO branding and the app to use, the shift also increases the pressure on Amazon and Roku to get a deal for HBO Max.”


HBO Max started at the end of May.

Angela Lang / CNET

Streaming is more popular than ever during the Coronavirus pandemicThis reinforces the longstanding trend that people watch more of their video online. With all the attention that is given to the so-called streaming wars, the fierce battle is not between the various streaming services, but between the most powerful TV app distributors and deeply pocketed media companies. Both sides are drawing their lines of battle to control the data and money generated by your streaming activities as they try to consolidate positions of power for the next era of television.

But in the meantime, get stuck and take splinters in the crossfire. This means you can’t see all the top streaming services on all the top devices.

Power games

Roku and Amazon Fire TV products are the most common ways to stream on TV in the United States. Together, the two companies’ streaming devices and smart TVs accounted for 70% of all streaming devices installed in the United States last year, reaching approximately 80 million active users between them.

But instead of serving as neutral platforms for apps, Roku and Amazon have been hot on their heels in discussions with new streaming services lately. And media companies are pushing back the terms of distribution with these device manufacturers and need their new services to be as profitable as possible after investing billions to create them.

The HBO Max hustle and bustle was not the first time that this tension between streaming services and device manufacturers became visible to the public. Earlier this year, a similar argument between Roku and Fox threatened to throw Fox’s apps off the Roku boxes just as these apps were supposed to stream the year’s biggest TV event: the Super Bowl. The day before the kick-off, Fox and Roku reached an agreement to make the apps work in time for the game.

But HBO Max wasn’t the last instance of this kind of conflict either. After HBO Max was launched without Roku and Amazon, NBCUniversals Peacock from Comcast was a repeat of the same standoff. Peacock launched nationwide on July 15, but like Max before, Peacock lacked the support of Roku and Fire TV as no deals could be made with these companies.

The heart of the conflict is of course money and control. Variety’s Todd Spangler has a solid summary of what each side is fighting for.

But even after the deadline on Saturday, HBO Max said late Thursday that there was nothing new to report on the negotiations. “We continue to work hard to reach agreements with the few remaining distributors to provide HBO Max on platforms for customers,” said a spokeswoman. HBO Max previously said that this is the case Apps for Roku and Fire TV ready to go, but the service must first do business with both companies.

Roku did not comment on the status of the talks, and Amazon did not respond to a message looking for a comment.

Last week, AT & T’s CEO disguised Amazon because he kept HBO Max away from customers while he was silent about Roku.

“We have repeatedly tried to make HBO Max available to all customers with Amazon Fire devices, including customers who purchased HBO through Amazon,” said John Stankey, CEO of AT&T, referring to those who Pay HBO through Amazon Channels Subscribe to multiple video services through your Amazon account. “Unfortunately, Amazon tried to treat HBO Max and its customers differently [from] how they chose to treat other services and their customers. “

On Wednesday, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, said he believed the company would eventually reach an agreement with HBO Max when asked on Capitol Hill whether Amazon was abusing its market power. When asked by a congressional member whether there is a conflict of interest if Amazon keeps services like Max away from Fire TV to determine more favorable conditions, Bezos said: “There could be scenarios if we only speak abstractly in which this could be inappropriate and Scenarios where it would be normal and very appropriate. “

Easier … but more complicated

As of Saturday, HBO will limit its streaming apps from three to two. HBO Max continues to be AT & T’s marquee service for streaming HBO. But after Friday HBO gets rid of HBO Go and HBO Now is simply renamed to “HBO”. Although the changes are intended to simplify the overall HBO app offering, the gaps in the availability of HBO Max make this simplification … complicated.

So what do you do when you rely on HBO Go to stream on a Roku or Fire TV?

Apparently AT&T HBO Go and HBO Now collapse together in the renamed HBO app. Although this app does not contain any additional originals, shows or films that you get with HBO Max, you can still stream regular HBO programs on Roku and Fire TV even after Go and Now is no longer available. You will need to update your HBO account to unlock HBO Max. By this time, you should be able to use your HBO Max credentials to sign in to the new renamed HBO app on Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

Unfortunately, not every HBO customer qualifies for this upgrade to Max. So complicated. (CNET has an article that explains all the ways you can qualify for one Update to get these HBO Max credentials.)

In addition, Roku noted that people who pay for HBO through Comcast, charter or AT&T TV, HBO can also stream in the Comcast Xfinity Stream, Spectrum TV and AT&T TV apps. Amazon did not respond to comments.

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