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HBO Max launched yesterday, and while everyone has been busy binging shows like Friends, The Big Bang Theory and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, there was likely some annoyance from others who were trying to get the new service, but couldn't access it through Amazon. As anyone with Amazon Prime will know, you can subscribe to a wide variety of other streaming channels (such as Starz, BritBox and CBS AllAccess) through the site, but even though you can do this with HBO, you cannot currently get HBO Max through Amazon. And, the folks at Amazon had some choice words for that decision.
Unfortunately, even those who get their HBO access through Amazon are unable to get HBO Max in the same way, and, according to Deadline, a statement released by Amazon makes it pretty clear that the company is not cool with that at all.
With a seamless customer experience, nearly 5 million HBO streamers currently access their subscription through Amazon’s Prime Video Channels. Unfortunately, with the launch of HBO Max, AT&T is choosing to deny these loyal HBO customers access to the expanded catalog. We believe that if you’re paying for HBO, you’re entitled to the new programming though the method you’re already using. That’s just good customer service and that’s a priority for us.
Obviously, subscribing to a streamer or the streaming version of a premium cable channel through an Amazon add-on makes things a lot easier for the consumer. You generally get a free trial of at least a week for each service, and if you decide to keep the service and all the new goodies it offers, there's no need to come up with a separate password or enter payment info, since being logged in to Amazon takes care of all that.
But, this "seamless customer experience" is not available to those who want HBO Max right now, and those at Amazon are not happy with that, especially since there are potentially 5 million people who'd be willing to add the streamer, because they already have HBO through Amazon.
Amazon called out AT&T, the parent company of WarnerMedia, which owns HBO Max, because the main issue at play here is the lack of a distribution deal between Amazon and those that hold the purse strings for the new streamer. While there are already several such deals in place (as the one with Hulu and cable companies like Cox and Spectrum), Amazon and Roku remain the biggest gaps in making sure that potential subscribers can easily access HBO Max. Amazon almost had a similar issue come up with Disney+, but was able to reach a deal just a few days before that service launched last November.
Part of the problem might be that WarnerMedia doesn't want to tie HBO Max down to an agreement that would keep people from simply using the app directly as their starting point. It's thought that the company wants to be able to slowly move away from having Amazon as an intermediary, which is more likely now that subscribers can get standard HBO programming and HBO Max's impressive array of content through the app, but Amazon, of course, would be less than thrilled about being cut out of that profit stream.
While a representative from WarnerMedia later came out and said that the company is looking forward to making agreements with additional distributors for HBO Max, including Amazon, we don't know when that might happen right now. If you'd still like to try HBO Max out for yourself, you can always stay out of this battle royale and sign up directly with the above link or right here. For more on what's coming to the small screen, be sure to check out our guide to summer TV.