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HBO Max, Roku strike deal at last (yes, you’ll be able to stream Wonder Woman 1984) HBO Max, Roku strike deal at last (yes, you’ll be able to stream Wonder Woman 1984)
HBO Max launched in May and has struggled to gain the same traction as Disney Plus.  Angela Lang/CNET Roku and HBO Max have reached a deal... HBO Max, Roku strike deal at last (yes, you’ll be able to stream Wonder Woman 1984)


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HBO Max launched in May and has struggled to gain the same traction as Disney Plus. 


Angela Lang/CNET

Roku and HBO Max have reached a deal for Roku’s popular lineup of streaming devices to support HBO Max’s app, a breakthrough in their months-long standoff that will give millions of people the option to easily stream movies like Wonder Woman 1984The Matrix 4 and Dune. HBO Max will be available on Roku starting Thursday, the companies said Wednesday; that’s little more than one week before Wonder Woman is set to stream at no extra cost to Max subscribers the same day it hits the big screen. 

Streaming has grown more popular than ever during the coronavirus pandemic, amplifying a long trend of people watching more video over the internet. But that escalated new tensions between the most powerful TV app distributors — the Rokus of the world — and deep-pocketed media companies that were launching streaming apps. Both sides wanted to lock down control of the data, money and programming at the heart of your streaming activity so they could entrench themselves in positions of strength for the next era of television.

But that led to standoffs, like the one blacking out HBO Max’s app from Roku since the service launched in May — sticking streaming customers in the middle of their impasse. 

The pressure for HBO Max and Roku to reach a deal ratcheted higher earlier this month, when HBO Max announced it would stream all of Warner Bros.’ new movies the same day as theatrical release, making them available to watch at home for subscribers at no added cost. Each film will be on HBO Max, which costs $15 a month, for one month, and then the movies will leave the streaming service to be exclusively in theaters for a time. That strategy begins Dec. 25, when Wonder Woman 1984 is slated to be the first movie released that way.  

Telecom giant AT&Towns both HBO Max and the Warner Bros. movie studio, through its WarnerMedia entertainment unit.

HBO Max streams everything on HBO’s regular channel, plus original shows and movies and other licensed exclusives unavailable anywhere else, like Friends, The Big Bang Theory and the beloved Studio Ghibli animated movies. But the plan to premiere big Warner Bros. movies on HBO Max “day-and-date” — when films are released in theaters and for home viewing at the same time — was sure to supercharge interest in the service. 

And HBO Max’s absence from Roku (and, earlier, Amazon Fire TV) likely crimped its traction. Even with 28.7 million people who could use HBO Max at no added cost because they already have regular HBO, the Max service had just 8.6 million accounts as of October, a little more than four months after launch. To put that in context, when Disney Plus launched in November 2019, it reported more than 10 million signups in roughly 24 hours.

Other big Warner Bros. movies set to come out on HBO Max the same day as in theaters include expected box-office heavyweights like Godzilla vs. Kong, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, and The Suicide Squad, James Gunn’s latest take on that DC Comics crew. Retro revivals like Mortal Kombat and Space Jam: A New Legacy are on the slate too.

On Wednesday, the companies said the HBO Max app on Roku will not only let existing members stream everything on the service but also let would-be new subscribers sign up directly on their Roku devices.

“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,” Scott Rosenberg, Roku’s senior vice president of platform business, said in a release. 

Tony Goncalves, WarnerMedia’s chief revenue officer, said the company was likewise “thrilled” at the deal. “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,” he said. 


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