HBO Max to begin European rollout this fall

By Meg James

Streaming service HBO Max will launch in late October in six European countries: Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Spain and Andorra.

WarnerMedia announced the European debut Wednesday, but the company did not disclose pricing details for international customers. In the U.S., the advertising-free version of HBO Max sells for $14.99 a month.

The Nordic and Spanish rollout is slated for Oct. 26.

The move represents the AT&T-owned media company's latest push to make HBO Max a global brand, although the company has been playing catch-up to streaming leaders Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+.

In a statement, WarnerMedia said it would extend distribution next year to Central Europe, including Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The HBO Max streaming service boasts film franchises, including Harry Potter and "Wonder Woman," and popular television shows including "The Big Bang Theory," "The White Lotus," "The Sopranos" and "The Flight Attendant."

HBO Max's European rollout is complicated by a long-term partnership between the European pay-TV giant Sky and HBO. For more than a decade, Sky has maintained exclusive rights to HBO shows in the countries that it operates, including Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy. Two years ago, WarnerMedia renewed that arrangement with Sky, which is owned by Philadelphia cable giant Comcast.

Sky will continue to offer HBO exclusively in its markets for another couple of years.

AT&T said in July that its various HBO brands, including HBO Max, had reached about 20 million international customers in addition to 47 million domestic subscribers. Many are HBO holdovers as the premium channel had started its international push long before AT&T swallowed the media company in 2018.

Although WarnerMedia's ownership is in flux, the New York-based media giant is following through on Chief Executive Jason Kilar's ambitious international launch schedule.

In late June, WarnerMedia said it had debuted the streaming service in three dozen Latin American and Caribbean countries.

AT&T this spring announced a $43-billion sale of WarnerMedia, which includes HBO, CNN, Cartoon Network and the historic Warner Bros. television and movie studio in Burbank, California, to the smaller programming company, Discovery. The deal, which requires regulatory approvals, is expected to close next year.

The HBO Max streaming service, AT&T's big bet in streaming, launched in the U.S. in May 2020.

In Europe, the company will look to convert subscribers of HBO-specific products, including HBO Espana and HBO Nordic, to HBO Max.

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