A year after HBO left Amazon Prime Video, its streaming successor, HBO Max could be returning. Bloomberg is reporting that Amazon and HBO Max’s owner, Warner Bros. Discovery, are in talks to make it easier to subscribe to HBO Max directly from Amazon Prime.
Before Warner Bros. Discovery had ambitions to go toe to toe with Netflix and Disney in the great streaming wars, it did respectable business playing nice with other streamers and bundling its service with other subscriptions. Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV Plus, and even Hulu would all take your $15 a month so you could watch HBO directly from those apps instead of the HBO one. The tactic was similar to how HBO operated in the cable TV space —essentially functioning as a premium add-on for other services. Starz, AMC, and Sundance still operate this way.
But when AT&T purchased HBO, it wanted to set its newly owned service apart. HBO Max was formed from the various iterations of HBO and marketed as a premium service that combined all the HBO shows, with a ton of original content, refugees from other AT&T axed services (the popular Harley Quinn was originally a DC Universe exclusive), and the majority of Warner Bros.’ library. When Discovery picked up Warner Bros. (and all the various versions of HBO) from AT&T, it leaned further into that plan, ending the bundled practice to focus on making HBO Max a destination app.
That move cost HBO Max over 5 million subscribers. Apparently, subscribers don’t just subscribe for the content — as most of the streaming companies insist. They also want an easy-to-manage service, used in a comfortable and familiar manner, in an app that doesn’t suck.
HBO Max’s app sucks tremendously. I’m personally not a fan of the Prime Video app either, but I definitely understand that some people might be a fan and find the switch to managing two separate subscriptions and two separate apps daunting.
Returning to the bundle, at least until the new Warner Bros Discovery mega app emerges, could be a good move for the company, which has seen its stock drop 45 percent since the merger. According to Bloomberg, the deal isn’t done, though. Warner Bros. Discovery is holding out until Amazon agrees to some additional terms — like sharing viewing metrics. Here’s hoping that while the lawyers hash out the details, some project manager at Warner Bros. Discovery can get the HBO Max app in better shape. It’s 2022, and the majority of HBO Max content still doesn’t stream in 4K.