HBO Max to Include Live Content Elements

HBO Max, AT&T's upcoming streaming service, will include live programming, the company said Wednesday.

Speaking on AT&T’s second-quarter earnings call Wednesday, CEO Randall Stephenson said that some of the sports rights now held by WarnerMedia’s Turner and Bleacher Report units will be important parts of HBO Max.

Live news programming will also be a part of HBO Max, he said.

“This won’t be at the early stages of HBO Max, but you should assume that ultimately, HBO Max will have live elements,” Stephenson said.

Netflix, the leading streaming service and the target for media companies like AT&T looking to compete in the direct-to-consumer space, has said that live programming, including sports, is not a good fit for its on-demand streaming platform.

Stephenson pointed to the sports rights held by Turner, including the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament will be “very, very important and will do quite well as an element of HBO Max.”

He added that Bleacher Report also has rights to NBA content and European soccer that could also provide live content for HBO Max.

“The same with news. And you can go through the areas of news that we think are very, very important and will do quite well as an element of HBO Max,” he added.

The NFL Sunday Ticket, now with the AT&T DirecTV unit, won’t be a part of HBO Max at this point.

“That's something that's served DirecTV well for many years, Stephenson said. “However unfortunately right now that content is tied to our satellite product. It serves a good value as we come into the fall. It will be an important retention tool but in terms of an opportunity to grow our business with that, when it's anchored to a satellite product, it's kind of hard to utilize it.”

AT&T has been talking to the NFL about whether Sunday Ticket will remain exclusive to DirecTV or be split with a streaming service.

“Hopefully over time we can address that and move it onto our other platforms and I think it could be really important piece of growing our other platforms,” he said.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.