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Comcast X1, Flex customers to get HBO Max app this week

The rollout comes more than six months after Comcast said HBO Max would be offered natively to X1 and Flex users.

The rollout comes more than six months after Comcast said HBO Max would be offered natively to X1 and Flex users.

(Logos: Comcast/AT&T/WarnerMedia, Graphic designed by The Desk)

Comcast customers with X1 and Flex set-top boxes will receive access to AT&T WarnerMedia’s blockbuster streaming service HBO Max this week, according to sources.

The app started appearing on some X1 and Flex boxes, and the cable giant will push the app out to more boxes through the rest of the week. The rollout comes more than six months after Comcast said it had struck a deal to place the HBO Max app on its devices.

Comcast customers who sign up for HBO through their cable and Internet plans have access to the HBO Max app on other devices as part of their $15 a month subscription. But since the app launched in late May, Comcast’s customers have had to use secondary devices like an Apple TV or Android TV (and, most recently, Amazon’s line of TV hardware) to access the app, which offers HBO’s original programming alongside an expanded content of library from WarnerMedia and other studios.

Comcast’s platform requires streaming companies to build specialized versions of its apps that are specific to the X1 operating system, and development of the HBO Max app has been delayed in part due to the ongoing coronavirus health pandemic

But the app is done, and Comcast’s X1 and Flex customers will start to see it land on their devices this week, according to people familiar with the rollout.

Outside of Comcast’s X1 platform, HBO Max is available to streamers who use Apple TV, Android TV (Google TV), Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV devices as well as Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation 4 gaming consoles. It’s also available as a built-in app on smart TVs powered by Samsung’s Tizen operating system.

The app still isn’t available natively on Roku’s line of streaming TV devices, though some Roku customers are able to stream content from HBO Max by using a separate Apple phone, tablet or computer. Last week, an AT&T executive declined to offer specifics about the company’s conversations with Roku but said discussions regarding HBO Max were happening “daily.”

At issue in the Roku dispute is an agreement between it and AT&T that allowed the company to sell native HBO subscriptions to Roku users in exchange for a commission. That issue, which was to blame for both sides failing to reach an agreement early on, has largely been resolved, according to an inside source; now, both sides are trying to settle on how much commercial inventory Roku will be allowed to access when AT&T launches a cheaper, ad-supported version of HBO Max next year.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).