HBO Max launching on Roku devices this week

The logos of Roku and HBO Max.
(Logos: Roku/AT&T, Graphic by The Desk)

After months of negotiations, AT&T’s blockbuster streaming service HBO Max will finally be made available to millions of Roku users this week, the companies announced on Wednesday.

The agreement comes less than one month after The Desk exclusively reported AT&T and Roku were near a deal to bring HBO Max to millions of Roku’s streaming users.

“We believe that all entertainment will be streamed, and we are thrilled to partner with HBO Max to bring their incredible library of iconic entertainment brands and blockbuster slate of direct to streaming theatrical releases to the Roku households with more than 100 million people that have made Roku the number one TV streaming platform in America,” Scott Rosenberg, a senior executive with Roku, said in a statement.

HBO Max will start rolling out on Roku streaming TV devices on Thursday, the companies said.

“HBO Max is an incredible product with an unparalleled content offering that puts the consumer at the center, and we’re thrilled that Roku users will be able to experience all the great stories HBO Max has to offer,” Tony Goncalves, the chief revenue officer for WarnerMedia, said in a statement. “We’re breaking new ground in the months ahead, and we can’t wait to work with our longtime partners at Roku to build on our past successes and bring HBO Max’s best-in-class quality entertainment to Roku’s large and highly engaged audience.”

Since it launched in May, HBO Max has been absent from Roku due to an existing agreement between it and AT&T over the sale of native HBO subscriptions through the Roku Channel. Roku wanted the ability to keep selling HBO subscriptions in exchange for a commission, while AT&T wanted to move away from commission-based sales for HBO Max. A similar issue kept HBO Max off devices powered by Amazon’s Fire TV operating system until last month.

In November, The Desk reported AT&T and Roku had largely settled the subscription issue and had started negotiating terms over a cheaper, ad-supported version of HBO Max that is due to launch next year. Roku typically requires ad-supported streaming services to provide a certain amount of commercial inventory for its own advertisements, which helps Roku generate revenue. Both sides were trying to determine how much commercial ad inventory Roku should be allowed to have on the cheaper version of HBO Max, an insider source said.

As part of the deal reached with AT&T, Roku will stop selling native HBO subscriptions through the Roku Channel, a source told The Desk on Wednesday. Existing HBO subscriptions paid for through Roku will convert into HBO Max subscriptions, the source confirmed.

Instead of selling native HBO subscriptions, Roku and AT&T have instead agreed on a plan that will allow Roku users to pay for HBO Max subscriptions through Roku Pay, the platform’s native payment processor. Roku will receive a commission from every HBO Max subscription paid for through Roku Pay, the source said, though customers can also sign up for HBO Max separately through AT&T itself.