Media Beat: October 30, 2019

Bell Media adds HBO Max to its streaming war arsenal

Bell Media has announced a new long-term exclusive deal with Warner Bros. International Television Distribution that brings original programming from WarnerMedia’s HBO Max to Canada. It’s the first foreign licensing agreement for the premium streaming brand that has its US launch in May 2020.

The agreement extends Bell Media’s existing programming partnership with HBO with the addition of 10K hours of new premium content offered through its price-tiered Crave SVOD service.

Bell Media has not announced a sticker price for the new HBO Max service, but its attractive marquee of assets, including a Game of Thrones prequel and first-run Warner Bros., feature films ups the game for Crave in the streaming war that become intensely competitive with the launch of Apple TV+ on Nov. 1 and Disney+ on Nov. 12.

HBO Max has been a priority for WarnerMedia and its parent company AT&T since the telecom giant completed its acquisition of Time Warner last summer in a US$85B deal.

AT&T said Monday that it intends to spend about $2B on HBO Max in the next two years, according to Bloomberg News.

“As we approach the one-year anniversary of the all-new Crave, we’re more committed than ever to ensure ongoing access to the highest calibre content,” Bell Media President Randy Lennox said in a statement this a.m. “With this new HBO Max agreement, we are expanding our long and successful partnership with HBO and Warner Bros. and demonstrating this commitment to premium content in an era of increasing competition.”

Concurrent with his statement, Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution President, Jeffrey Schlesinger remarked that “Bell Media has been a long-term and strategic partner for both Warner Bros. and HBO (and) it is only logical for us to expand the relationship by adding the upcoming original programming from HBO Max as well as extend the successful relationship covering our feature films, network series, and cable programming. All of this together makes Bell Media a great Canadian home for all of these assets from WarnerMedia.”

Specific details on the rollout of HBO Max programming in Canada are expected in the coming months.

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