AT&T reveals date HBO Max will take on Disney, Netflix

Wednesday, 30 Oct, 2019

The company confirmed the availability of the bundle during its WarnerMedia day. "Audiences have connected with Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny - either alive or dead - for over 20 years, and we look forward to connecting these characters to new audiences on HBO Max".

Longtime AT&T executive John Stankey became the head of the entertainment unit, WarnerMedia, which will provide HBO Max with the content it needs to compete in the streaming universe. If you're a fan of sitcoms, HBO Max will also be the sole home of Friends and The Big Bang Theory.

AT&T has also bowed to pressure from activist investor Elliott Management, announcing a three-year strategic plan that will consider selling up to US$10 billion worth of non-core businesses in 2020, pay off all its debts from the acquisition of Time Warner and hire two new board members.

Subscription intention is lower still for HBO Max and Peacock: not surprising because pricing and other details for each service have not yet been announced. The company hopes to have as many as 75-90 million subscribers worldwide within five years of launch, thanks to its 4 billion dollar investment in the product over the coming years.

HBO Max faces formidable rivals. Netflix has 160 million customers - a large advantage over all of the new entrants - and a particularly significant head start overseas.

But what HBO says will differentiate it from the pack is its slate of extensive partnerships, library of popular shows from the last four decades and provider partnerships like the one it has with AT&T. Disney Plus, the service from the Walt Disney Co. scheduled to start on November 12, will charge $7.

Max will challenge Netflix alongside Disney, Comcast and Apple. He stressed the importance of simplifying the search for shows and curating content, a dig at Netflix.

"We actually think our value proposition improves when we narrow the options, removing much of the filler no one watches anyway", Greenblatt said.

Podcasts will be available via the HBO Max mobile app, which will be pre-loaded on phones sold to AT&T customers, and available for download for everyone else.

It's aiming for kids with "Sesame Street" and an Elmo talk show.

However one of the vital fascinating methods HBO Max goes to distinguish itself from its opponents is by what they're calling "co-viewing".

From Stage 21 on the Warner Brothers Studio lot in Burbank, California, executives demonstrated the breadth of new original programming and the depth of WarnerMedia's extensive library of films and TV series. It already has received a full-season order and will have 22 episode available on HBO Max next September.

But the company has hurdles to overcome in a world where Netflix offers a taste of everything, according to Naveen Sarma, a senior director at S&P Global Ratings. Currently, parent-company AT&T is expected to invest $1.5-2 billion in 2019 with $1 billion per year each year after.