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EXCLUSIVE: Latin America will be HBO Max's first international market after its U.S. launch

The streaming platform, which will debut in the U.S. on May 27th, is coming to the region in 2021, ahead of Europe

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  • Earlier this week, WarnerMedia, HBO’s parent company, concluded a transaction to facilitate the rollout of HBO Max in Latin America;
  • HBO Max will be one of the strongest competitors in the so-called streaming wars with Netflix, Disney+ and Prime Video.

The first international expansion of HBO Max will happen in Latin America, and the company is prioritizing the region over other foreign markets such as Europe. The streaming platform, which will launch in the U.S. on May 27th as a strong competitor to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, is going to land in Latin American countries no sooner than 2021, though.

Earlier this week, WarnerMedia, HBO‘s parent company, acquired minority stakes in Latin American subsidiaries and took control of all HBO-branded operations in Brazil and Spanish-speaking countries of the region. Before the acquisition, regional services were run in joint-ventures with Ole Communications. According to information gathered by LABS from sources close to the plans, after the debut in the U.S., “the next region or next countries the firm is looking at [to launch HBO Max], they are all in Latin America”.

The next phase is Latin America. HBO is looking into this already, with no specific country where it will start, but that’s the next phase. And, realistically speaking, we are talking about next year

The firm does not specify where HBO Max’s expansion will take place at first, but the recent transaction is the first step in rolling out the streaming platform across Latin America, as Gerhard Zeiler, chief revenue officer at WarnerMedia International Networks, said in a statement: “First and foremost, with this acquisition, we plan to launch localized versions of our upcoming U.S. streaming service HBO Max to consumers throughout the region.”

HBO Max is set to become one of the largest players in the video-streaming landscape, alongside Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video. From the start, HBO Max will have a huge library of content and a big budget to spend on exclusive new shows, series and movies.

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Different schedule follows HBO’s Latin American ties

The international expansion that HBO Max is planning, with a focus on Latin America, differs from Disney+, which debuted last November in the U.S., the Netherlands and Canada, then reached other European markets in March, before arriving in India last month. Disney+ will launch in Latin America in late 2020.

HBO Max will come to the region a little later, but the priority it is giving to Latin American markets may be related to its strong links to local audiences. WarnerMedia and Ole Communications brought HBO programming services to the region for the first time in 1991 and launched a Spanish-language HBO-branded premium channel that same year. In 1994, a Portuguese-language service was launched in Brazil.

The brand has also been producing regionally since 2003, when it recorded Epitafios, its first series from Argentina.

We were the first international broadcaster to produce premium local content in the region pushing boundaries of local storytelling with Epitafios (Argentina), Capadocia (Mexico) and Filhos do Carnaval (Brazil)

HBO Latin America

“For more than 17 years, HBO has been a pioneer in producing top-quality, original, and engaging content in Latin America, reaching audiences in over 40 countries across the region. We contributed to develop new storytelling models in Latin America working with local companies and pushing the ecosystem forward”, reads a statement sent by HBO Latin America to LABS.

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“Nearly thirty years ago, Ole partnered with HBO to build one of the leading pay-television platforms in Latin America,” said Enrique Cusco, CEO of Ole Communications, when announcing the selling of its minority stakes in local joint ventures. “HBO was an ideal partner and I’m grateful to all the people that worked with us to create HBO Latin America.”

Ole continues to regionally operate A&E, AXN, History, History2, IVC, Lifetime, E! Entertainment, Studio Universal, Sony Channel, SyFy, Telemundo Internacional, Universal TV and WB.

U.S. debut

According to Cnet, HBO Max will be the most expensive among the big video-streaming platforms in the U.S. It is set to cost $15 a month, compared to $7 a month for Disney+ and $9 a month for Netflix’s cheapest plan. Pre-order discounts of $3 per month during the first year are being offered for those U.S. users signing up to the service before May 27th.

In the U.S., users of HBO Now, the current, more limited HBO-branded subscription-based streaming service, may switch to Max at no cost. In the case of HBO Go, which is linked to pay-TV subscriptions, conditions and prices for access to the new platform will vary according to the pay-TV provider.

From the start, HBO Max will offer an impressive 10,000 hours of content including the entire HBO service, together with franchises, titles past and present from Warner Bros., foreign productions, and a monthly offering of new originals. 

Millions of subscribers and deep libraries

WarnerMedia has told investors it will have 75 million to 90 million HBO Max subscribers (50 million in the U.S.) by 2025. Netflix, the global leader, has 182 million subscribers (70 million in the U.S. and Canada). Disney+ already has 50 million users around the globe, and Prime Video counts 150 million subscribers, but Amazon’s figure bundles together customers of its premium services– of which Prime Video is a component.

HBO Max will pull from WarnerMedia’s deep library of motion picture and TV series from Warner Bros.’ 100-year content collection, New Line, titles from DC, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes, a selection of classic films curated in partnership with TCM, and more.  

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Among HBO’s premium originals are Westworld, Big Little Lies, Game of Thrones, Sex and the City, Veep, The Wire, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Succession,Watchmen, The Sopranos and more.

Highlights of the WarnerMedia portfolio include Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Doctor Who and Rick and Morty. In addition to series, specials, and docs, the service will feature more than 2,000 films from recent blockbusters such as A Star is Born and Joker to classics Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz, The Matrix, The Goonies, When Harry Met Sally, The Lord of the Rings and Citizen Kane.