HBO Max could soon return to Amazon Prime Video

A year after HBO left Amazon Prime Video, its streaming successor, HBO Max could return. Bloomberg reports that Amazon and HBO Max owner Warner Bros. Discovery, are in talks to make it easier to subscribe to HBO Max directly from Amazon Prime.

Before Warner Bros. Discovery didn’t have ambitions to go toe to toe with Netflix and Disney in the big streaming wars, it was doing respectable business playing well with other streamers and bundling its service with other subscriptions. Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV Plus, and even Hulu would take all your $15 a month so you could watch HBO directly from those apps instead of HBO’s. The tactic was similar to how HBO operated in the cable TV space – essentially operating as a premium add-on for other services. Starz, AMC and Sundance still operate this way.

But when AT&T bought HBO, it wanted to distinguish its new service. HBO Max was formed from the various iterations of HBO and marketed as a premium service that combined all of HBO’s shows, with a ton of original content, refugees from other AT&T cut services (the popular harley quinn was originally a DC Universe exclusive), and the majority of Warner Bros. library. When Discovery picked up Warner Bros. (and all the different versions of HBO) from AT&T, he leaned more into that plan, ending the bundled practice to focus on turning HBO Max into a destination app.

The move cost HBO Max more than 5 million subscribers. Apparently, subscribers don’t just subscribe to content, as most streaming companies insist. They also want a service that’s easy to manage, comfortable and familiar to use, in an app that doesn’t suck.

HBO Max’s app sucks a lot. Personally, I’m not a fan of the Prime Video app either, but I fully understand that some people might be a fan and find the switch to managing two separate subscriptions and two separate apps daunting.

Going back to the bundle, at least until the new Warner Bros. Discovery mega app emerges, could be a good move for the company, which has seen its shares plummet 45% since the merger. According Bloomberg, the deal is not done, however. Warner Bros. Discovery is holding out until Amazon agrees to some additional terms, like sharing viewing metrics. Here’s hoping while the lawyers work out the details, a project manager at Warner Bros. Discovery will be able to improve the HBO Max app. It’s 2022 and the majority of HBO Max content is still not streaming in 4K.

Lance B. Holton