While it’s only natural for streaming entertainment services to make their debut in the US market — for a variety of different reasons — it’s practically a given that they will have to expand to the international market at some point or another. Netflix did it, Disney Plus did it and now it’s HBO Max’s turn: Warner is taking its streaming service to Europe for the first time on October 26th, when it will be made available to consumers living in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Spain and Andorra. It is not just a random selection, of course: these are the countries where HBO Europe was already active with its HBO Nordic, HBO Espana and HBO Go services. HBO Max is practically taking over these first before establishing a presence in brand-new territories.
Warner plans to expand to 14 more European countries at some point in 2022: Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Hungary, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. There is no word regarding other countries such as Russia, Belgium, Switzerland or Greece: Warner just mentioned that “additional territory launches are also planned for next year”.
For people wondering why the company did not choose to establish a presence in Europe’s larger countries first — such as the UK, Germany, Italy or France — the answer is simple: ongoing partnerships. Warner has traditionally not operated in those markets on its own but rather worked with local operators, licensing its content to them. So, strangely enough, it seems that these big markets will be getting HBO Max when their partnerships’ contracts run out — which may or may not be during the course of 2022.
“Warner’s movies and TV shows such as Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and The Big Bang Theory are passionately consumed by fans all across Europe”, said the head of HBO Max International Johannes Larcher. “HBO Max has been created to provide them with the most intuitive and convenient viewing experience to watch these and a diverse range of other amazing titles”. HBO Max currently offers entertainment content from Warner, HBO, DC and the Cartoon Network, while also producing its own branded as Max Originals.
HBO Max did not offer any details regarding pricing, but it would make sense for it to stay in line with the pricing tiers established in the US already (confirmation will be offered during a virtual launch event next month). The service made its debut there in May 2020 and has since expanded to 39 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Its subscription base has grown to about 70 million consumers worldwide (August 2021). Warner’s official target is for HBO Max to reach anything between 120 and 150 million subscribers by 2025.