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We are now in an era where streaming services launch so frequently that it can be hard to keep track of them all, much less figure out which ones are worth your time and hard-earned dinero without at least giving them a shot long enough for a free trial to run out. If you have access to a platform that allows you to access these streamers in one place, the easiest solution is to just load them up with the appropriate apps and get your binge on. Unfortunately, when HBO Max went live toward the end of May, hopeful subscribers were not able to watch it on any Roku devices, and we now know why.
Being available on the platforms that consumers use to access these new networks is really, really important. There are certain business models that exist, and we each have our own. I just go back to the fact that we’re just... I think we’re just starting from a very, very different place. We have 30-plus million existing subscribers that have already gone in their pocket and voted to subscribe to a product, and we’re making that product better. We think the value prop is there. We just want to be treated fairly.
While Tony Goncalves wouldn't go into details on what kind of deal they were hoping to make with Roku or how long he believes it would take to get such a deal approved, it sounds a lot like the people at HBO Max felt like those at Roku weren't willing to partner in a way that took what they see as the value of the new streamer into account.
As he mentioned in his interview, HBO is already a very well known, loved, and respected property, and they already have many millions of subscribers. Goncalves, again, wouldn't get into specific numbers, but I'm sure several million of those current HBO subscribers upgraded to HBO Max, especially because, for most of those with HBO Now, their app updated automatically and they can access the new content without even paying anything extra.
It would seem that, right now, the offer on the table from Roku for HBO Max wasn't looking at the instant value that having that kind of potential subscriber base already intact would bring. To Goncalves, HBO is a brand people already trust, and HBO Max is simply an improvement on that brand which adds value, so any deal should reflect that. As he said, "We just want to be treated fairly."
While the situation between HBO Max and Roku seems to be at least a smidge contentious right now, Tony Goncalves has hope that this will change in the near future:
Disney+ and Netflix and Hulu and these other apps are on those platforms. There’s a certain business model that exists. We just want the same one. I’m hopeful that, ultimately, we’ll get there, and we’ll get there with the consumer in mind. But we just didn’t get there on Day 1.