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AT&T TV and HBO Max May Eventually Be Merged into One Service

(Image credit: AT&T TV)

AT&T chief operating officer John Stankey told a virtual industry audience Wednesday that its upcoming subscription streaming service, HBO Max -- set to debut on May 27 -- could eventually be paired with its new IP-based pay TV service, AT&T TV, as the TV business continues to move toward a more compact streaming environment.

“What Max and AT&T TV have in common is they are both software based, independent of any proprietary hardware, allowing customers to get access content over any device, over any hardware platform," Stankey said. 

"They’re low friction, they can be deployed literally by a flick of a computer switch somewhere in a back office," Stankey added. "That’s an important aspect. And that’s what consumers will see as the customer-based Max grows. It becomes a more scaled distribution element within AT&T, certainly something that surpasses 25-28% of households like our pay TV offering. That becomes a lead basis of entertainment and how we get into households.”

Stankey, who will take over for the retiring Randall Stephenson as CEO in July, talked up the HBO Max service at the JP Morgan Technology, Media and Communications conference Wednesday, adding that it is a key part of AT&T’s entertainment strategy.

Stankey said the ultimate vision is to eventually package the software-based AT&T TV and HBO Max together.

Also read: AT&T TV: Everything You Need to Know About the Streaming Version of AT&T’s Premium Pay TV Service

Stankey added that as the TV business continues to transition from the old 500-channel universe to more consolidated, streaming offerings of live sports, scripted and unscripted content and news, bundling the products together seems natural.

“You want a platform that can distribute both. So AT&T being software driven, HBO Max being software driven, user interface capabilities, bundling, price start to move together,” Stankey said. “I think we’re at a very natural place to see that begin to occur and our TV business and our SVOD business start to become one as we get out over the next couple of years.”

Stankey made the declaration after disclosing another bombshell--that HBO Max will probably launch on May 27 without app support for the world's biggest OTT device ecosystem, Amazon Fire TV. 

Also read: AT&T's Stankey: HBO Max Probably Won't Launch with Amazon Fire TV Support

As for AT&T TV, it's supported by all the major OTT hardware. But so far, the new pay TV service--which combines IP delivery with traditional pay TV fee structure--has not reversed AT&T's pay TV subscriber fortunes.