On Wednesday, Bezos said he believed a deal between Amazon and AT&T, the parent company of HBO, will “eventually” be reached over the premium streaming service.
The comment came during a question-and-answer session with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Bezos was one of four technology executives to speak during a Congressional hearing over allegations of anti-competitive business practices.
Since it launched on May 27, HBO Max has been unavailable to users of Amazon’s Fire TV and Fire Tablet devices. A short time after the service went live, Amazon said an existing agreement between it and AT&T to distribute HBO content natively through Prime Video was at the center of an ongoing dispute over HBO Max.
HBO Max also remains unavailable to users of Roku’s streaming television hardware. Together, Roku and Amazon control around 70 percent of the streaming television hardware market.
During the hearing, Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin called into question Amazon’s dominance in the streaming television market and its control over apps within its ecosystem.
“A lot of consumers want to know when the HBO Max app will be available on your Fire device,” Raskin said. “I understand that negotiations are ongoing, but that your company is not only asking for financial terms, but also for content from WarnerMedia…is it fair to use your gatekeeper status role in the streaming device market to promote your position as a competitor in the video streaming market with respect to content?”
Bezos said he was not personally involved in discussions between Amazon and AT&T over the carriage of HBO Max, which he characterized as “ongoing,” but stated he believed an agreement would be reached.
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“I’m not familiar with the details of those negotiations,” Bezos said. “I predict the companies will eventually come to an agreement.”
Bezos characterized ongoing negotiations between Amazon and AT&T as a “normal case of commerce.”
“Is it okay to negotiate not just for financial terms…but also to extract in that negotiation leverage with respect to getting content from them?” Raskin asked.
“In general, I think when two companies are negotiating, you are not just negotiating the amount of money that will exchange hands, but what you will get for that exchange of money,” Bezos said.
“Do you see at least to outsiders that looks like a structural conflict of interest?” Raskin questioned. “You’re using your control over access to people’s living rooms, essentially — you’re using that in order to obtain leverage in terms of getting creative content that you want. Are you essentially converting power from one domain into power in another domain where it doesn’t belong?”
Bezos said he was unfamiliar with the element of the lawmaker’s question but promised to provide more information to his office at a later time.