Wiki of Westeros

HOTD205.jpg House of the Dragon: Season 2, Ep. 5: "Regent" is now streaming on Max.

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Wiki of Westeros
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Wiki of Westeros
Max

Max, or HBO Max outside the United States, is an American subscription-based video on demand streaming service from Warner Bros. Discovery.

The Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon, is released weekly on Max.

World of Westeros content[]

Television series[]

History[]

Within the United States, the first streaming service that HBO provided was HBO Go, launched on February 18, 2010. HBO Go was not a standalone service but intended only as a "watch anywhere" service for customers who already subscribed to the HBO cable channel. As the demand for over-the-top (OTT) streaming services increased, the standalone HBO Now was launched on April 7, 2015. The names "HBO Go" and "HBO Now" were alternately used in international markets (i.e. in Latin America the OTT service was called "HBO Go" instead of "HBO Now").

HBO Max Logo

After AT&T bought HBO's parent company Time-Warner in 2018, the newly renamed "WarnerMedia" announced its intentions to launch a streaming service to compete with others such as Netflix and Disney+. The resulting streaming service was launched on May 27, 2020, and named HBO Max. From its inception, there were complaints that the name chosen for it was misleading and led to it being confused as just an upgraded version of HBO Now: HBO Max didn't simply offer HBO content, but the entire Time-Warner catalogue across both television and film.

In a move that surprised the industry, only two years later AT&T sold off its shares of WarnerMedia to Discovery+. The new company resulting from the merger on April 8, 2022, was renamed "Warner Bros. Discovery". Under CEO David Zaslav, it was announced that the company's two streaming platforms would be merged together (combining the fourth and eighth largest global streaming platforms). The newly merged platform first launched in the United States on May 23, 2023, named simply Max. As Zaslav and his team explained in an upfront presentation a month earlier, they chose to drop "HBO" from the title because market research showed that it confused potential customers into thinking it only offered HBO content - they specifically cited that reports showed many customers were unaware they also carried a wide range of children's content (such as Cartoon Network). As for why they chose to rename it "Max" and not something else (such as "Warner+" etc.), they explained that it came about organically from how they had already been referring to HBO Max as "Max" for short in their internal office meetings.

Release pattern[]

Other streaming services such as Netflix or Disney+ which are purely digital have fallen into the pattern of typically releasing their content at 3 A.M. EST (8 A.M. GMT). The logic behind this is that most audiences watch TV content when they are home in the evening, starting around 5 P.M. - on a global scale, the first region to experience "5 P.M." is the western Pacific rim (Australia, Japan, etc.), followed by Europe, then the Americas.

In contrast, Max isn't a purely digital service: many of its programs are tied to the release schedule of the HBO cable channel. Series in the World of Westeros franchise have (so far) been released Sunday evening in the United States, which means that the simultaneous global premiere takes place well after midnight in European markets.

Internationalization[]

When HBO Max launched in May 2020, it developed a comprehensive strategy for global expansion beyond the United States by dividing the rest of the world into three broad global zones: all of Latin America, "EMEA" (Europe, Middle-East, Africa), and Asia-Pacific. Expansion waves of HBO Max were loosely meant to proceed in this order. Complicating matters, HBO Max quickly bootstrapped its way to world-wide launch of its content by licensing it to over a dozen third-party contractors, such as the Sky Atlantic group which licenses HBO content in the UK, Germany, and Italy. Thus, international expansion of HBO Max would begin in regions which had direct markets but skipping over countries using third party contractors.

HBO Max's three large global zones were also defined around their direct markets, and while some third-party countries such as the UK would obviously fall into the "EMEA" zone, others do not neatly fall into this categorization: Canada isn't part of the "Latin America" zone and Australia isn't part of the Asia-Pacific zone, because both use third party distributors. There is also functionally a fourth "zone" made up of international pariah states where HBO Max / Max has no intention of ever expanding: Iran, North Korea, the People's Republic of China, and (since 2022) Russia.

HBO Max's first international expansion wave occurred on June 29, 2021, when it simultaneously launched across 39 countries and territories in Latin America. Almost all of Latin America consisted of direct markets without third-party distributors, thus the only places this wave did not extend were Cuba and the French possessions in the Carribean.

Initially, Europe was heavily divided between a mix of third-party contractors and direct markets. The direct markets fell into three broad regions: Scandinavia (upgrading from "HBO Nordic"), Eastern Europe (from Poland to the Balkans, not including the Baltics; upgrading from the "HBO Europe" service), and Iberia (split between HBO Spain and HBO Portugal). While it was originally intended to launch in all direct markets in Europe at the same time, they were ultimately spit in half: the second expansion wave took place on October 26, 2021, including Scandinavia and Spain but not Portugal or Eastern Europe. These were pushed back to the third expansion wave, which occurred on March 8, 2022 - and also included expansion to a former third-party country, the Netherlands.

The third expansion wave, however, would turn out to be the last for specifically "HBO Max" - because one month later, the surprise merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery+ was announced. This paused internationalization for the next two years, as the new Warner-Bros. Discovery worked on merging their platforms together as "Max". This also meant that HBO's large direct market in Southeast Asia never received "HBO Max" in the first place but will eventually make the direct upgrade to "Max".

Despite the large size of Asia, the "Asia-Pacific" zone for HBO Max only included four potential regions - because HBO already had a large multi-national direct market service over most of Southeast Asia, and most of the rest were pariah states (North Korea, Iran, PRC, etc.). "HBO Asia", headquartered in Singapore, provides service across Southeast Asia for Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand, as well as to Hong Kong and Taiwan. Remaining countries that use their own third-party distributors are India, South Korea, and Japan.

In the United States, "HBO Max" upgraded to "Max" on May 23, 2023. Internationalization of the service was again planned to follow the pattern of Latin America, then EMEA, then Asia-Pacific. The broad goal is to upgrade Latin America and the direct European markets which already have HBO Max to Max by Spring 2024, and then launch in formerly third-party France and Belgium in Summer 2024 (in time to cover the Paris Olympics). This would leave the large Sky Atlantic group as the only remaining third-party distributor in Europe. HBO's large multinational Southeast Asia direct market would then see a Max launch by late 2024. Several of the remaining third-party distributor contracts are then set to expire in 2025, and Max may expand to these regions depending on whether they are renewed or not.

Remaining third-party distributors[]

As of early 2024, the limit to further international expansion for the Max streaming platform is the remaining third-party distributors in several countries. Several of these renewed their contracts in 2023 on a scale of several years into the foreseeable future, while others might when their contracts expire. Specifically, the only contracts running out in 2025 are for companies servicing the Sky Atlantic region (UK-Germany-Italy), South Korea, and Australia.

Americas:

  • Bell Media - their Crave streaming platform provides service in Canada. Renewed their multi-year contract in May 2023.

Europe, Middle-east, North Africa:

  • Sky Atlantic group - including the British Isles, Germany, Austria, and Italy. Contract expires in 2025.
    • After HBO Max's third expansion wave, it was announced that the next wave would include fringes of Europe including the Baltics, Iceland, Greece, and Turkey, but this was paused due to the Warner-Discovery merger.
  • OSN - provides service for Arabic-speaking countries across the Middle-east and North Africa. Renewed a multi-year contract in March 2023.
  • Showmax - based in South Africa, provides service for all of sub-Saharan Africa. Status unknown.

Asia-Pacific:

  • JioCinema - replaced Hotstar as third-party distributor for India in a new multi-year contract signed in April 2023.
  • U-Next: - the new third-party distributor for Japan, renewed their contract with a multi-year deal in March 2023.
  • South Korea: - HBO Max was actively gearing up for an imminent launch in South Korea in early 2022 but was paused by the merger with Discovery+. Could possibly resume in 2025.
  • Foxtel - their Binge streaming platform provides service for Australia. Contract is up for renewal in 2025, and Warner Bros. Discovery executives have mentioned by name that they will actively seek negotiations to expand Max to Australia in 2025.
    • Neon - services New Zealand. Status unknown.

References[]

External links[]

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