As 2020 draws to a close, HBO Max’s 2020 stumble into the streaming-video fray has begun smoothing out, and the subscription service will soon seal its biggest North American gap: a spot on the Roku marketplace.
Starting tomorrow, December 17, North American Roku owners will finally be able to download and access the HBO Max app, as confirmed by a joint statement by Roku and WarnerMedia, the entertainment conglomerate that’s wholly owned by AT&T. The official statement didn’t mention what previously prevented owners of Roku set-top boxes and smart TVs from accessing the $14.99/mo subscription service, though it did acknowledge a new “agreement” between the companies—which was likely a financial one.
And that agreement was likely significant, owing to the whopping 100 million-plus users currently hooked into the Roku ecosystem. It follows a November move by WarnerMedia to get HBO Max onto Amazon Fire streaming-video devices. That’s not all—PlayStation 5 users can add HBO Max to that console’s “media” tab starting today, as well.
One big question remains: exactly when will each of these apps receive a critical update to add HBO Max’s upcoming 4K video support? WarnerMedia isn’t saying just yet, but we’ve been led to believe that support will arrive on at least some of HBO Max’s platforms by December 25, in time for the service’s launch of the hotly anticipated film Wonder Woman 1984. While that film was originally slated to launch exclusively in theaters, WarnerMedia relented in the face of COVID-19 pressure to have the film simul-launch on HBO Max, without requiring a Mulan-like extra charge on top of its $14.99/mo rate.
Directors and actors within the Warner Bros. family of film studios have publicly complained about WarnerMedia’s recent decision to shift all 2021 film launches to a similar HBO Max simul-launch alongside theaters, with a new live-action Mortal Kombat film receiving the studio’s apparent first bump to Max status on April 16. Arguably, deals to get HBO Max into more living rooms by 2021 won’t assuage the likes of filmmakers Christopher Nolan and Denis Villeneuve, but it will certainly add more streaming eyeballs to those films’ ongoing contractual negotiations.