HBO Max Reveals European Launch Date: What About The UK?

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Major American stream service, HBO Max, has finally revealed some of its plans for Europe, with an October launch date for six European territories, with more countries coming in 2022. 

But one name that is notably missing from today’s announcement is the UK (along with two other major markets – France and Germany), where we will apparently have a long wait before HBO Max arrives.

HBO Max launched in the US on May 27, 2020, first as an “expanded” version of HBO.

HBO Max on phone
(Photo: Deposit Photos – Rafapress)

With HBO being one of the most recognisable brands in television, it made sense for Warner to capitalise on its success – and add more content and TV brands on top of it.

In the US, HBO Max features the entire HBO library (including new releases), as well as content from other platforms – DC, Universal Pictures, Warner and more.

So in addition to HBO classics like The Sopranos and Game of Thrones, and new hits like Succession and Mare of Eastown, HBO Max also has a diverse library of non-HBO shows, such as Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Raised by Wolves and many others.

Kate Winslet Mare of Eastown
Mare of Eastown (Photo: NOW)

This year, HBO Max also brought day-and-date releases of some major films that were released in US cinemas AND on the streaming service at the same time – such as Wonder Woman 1984 and The Suicide Squad (both of which only came to streaming services in the UK a few weeks after their theatrical releases).

Earlier this year, HBO Max expanded to Latin America – and now, it’s about to reach SOME European shores.

On October 26, HBO Max will launch in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Spain and Andorra.

Then in 2022, HBO Max will become available in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Furthermore, additional territory launches are planned for next year.

Currently, HBO already operates in these countries, so the transition to HBO Max should be fairly easy – though Warner says they will upgrade the experience, which will use the same technology used on HBO Max in the US.

As is often the case with streaming services that cross countries, HBO Max’ content library will be different in each territory, depending on local licensing agreements that were already in place before the launch.

HBO Max on laptop
(Photo: Deposit Photos / nikkimeel)

European pricing hasn’t been revealed yet – in the US, HBO Max costs $14.99/month for the “No Ads” tier, and $9.99/month for a version with adverts.

“This is a historic moment as HBO Max lands in Europe”, said Johannes Larcher, Head of HBO Max International.

“WarnerMedia movies and series like Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and The Big Bang Theory are passionately consumed by fans all across Europe, and 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.”

When Will HBO Max Come To The UK?

While other new American streaming services, like Peacock and Paramount+, will be coming to the UK soon – HBO Max is nowhere to be seen (although you can watch HBO Max in the UK with a VPN).

The reason? Longterm licensing deals were signed with Sky (and its streaming service, NOW), many of which long before HBO Max even existed.

These licensing deals have been in place since 2010, and are set to be in place until at least 2025.

An extension to this deal was even announced back in 2019, making Sky (and NOW) “the UK home of existing and upcoming HBO productions, as well as productions from HBO Max.”

Last March, we told you that some Warner Media executives were reportedly “exploring options” to change the Sky deal, but there were no new public announcements made since then.

At around the same time, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, said he was “spending a lot of time thinking heavily about what happens once the Sky deal is over”, while confirming that HBO Max won’t be reaching the UK anytime soon.

Ahead of the European announcement this week, HBO Europe General Manager Christina Sulebakk spoke with DTVE, and confirmed yet again that there are no short term plans to launch HBO Max in the UK, due to the “strong relationship” they have with Sky.

So, unless there are any unexpected changes – it appears we will not get HBO Max in the UK until 2025 at the earliest, while most of its new programmes will end up on Sky and NOW (Although some of WarnerMedia’s content is scattered across other streaming services in the UK).

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