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Extension Keeps HBO Now Alight on Amazon’s Fire TV

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos told a House subcommittee he expects an HBO Max deal soon.
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos told a House subcommittee he expects an HBO Max deal soon. (Image credit: C-SPAN)

Amazon and AT&T’s WarnerMedia division have reached an extension agreement that will allow users of Amazon Fire TV connected TV devices to keep streaming HBO’s legacy service directly through the HBO app. 

The two sides have yet to hammer out a deal that will enable users of Fire TV-enabled streaming sticks, boxes and smart TVs to use the new HBO Max app, however. 

For now, though, the extension meant that Fire TV users could still use the erstwhile HBO Now app. Effective Aug. 1, that legacy app, and the legacy HBO streaming service, were rebranded as simply “HBO.” 

If a deal hadn’t been reached, Fire TV users would have still been able to access HBO content through platforms like the Amazon Prime Video Channels app. They just wouldn’t have been able to use a standalone HBO app. 

As for HBO Max, it has about four times as much content as legacy HBO, drawing not just from the content resources of WarnerMedia’s premium cable unit, but also outlets ranging from Turner to Warner Bros. HBO Max also has a burgeoning library of original shows, although WarnerMedia’s ambition for originals has been understandably curtailed by pandemic-related studio shutdowns. 

What HBO Max does lack, however, is distribution. Since it launched May 27, the two leading connected TV OS operators, Roku and Amazon, have not supported the new app. 

 For its part, Amazon has been accused of trying to undermine what is essentially a rival SVOD service to Amazon Prime Video. 

Testifying to the House Antitrust Subcommittee on July 29, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos chalked the impasse up to large media-tech companies just doing what they do when they negotiate. He expressed confidence a deal to bring HBO Max to Amazon Fire TV would be hammered out shortly.