Nearly seven months after WarnerMedia launched HBO Max, users of the digital media player Roku finally have access to the streaming service. In the digital equivalent of a carriage fee dispute, Roku and WarnerMedia had previously been at odds over the terms of a deal.
Roku has 46 million users, or about 40% of the streaming marketplace, so WarnerMedia was desperate to figure things out before the release of “Wonder Woman 1984” on Christmas Day. Because Roku is such a massive gatekeeper to the steaming world, the company was able to play hardball. The company is worth more than $42 billion, which is more than the valuation of ViacomCBS.
In addition to now having access to HBO Max original shows and library content, Roku users will be able to watch all of Warner Bros.’ 2021 movies, which will stream on HBO Max the same day they open in theaters.
In other WarnerMedia news, CEO Jason Kilar has been through the media wringer recently. He blindsided and angered filmmakers with the announcement that their movies would not get an exclusive theatrical release. Then the New York Times reported that in trying to connect with journalists at WarnerMedia-owned CNN, he sent a memo congratulating them on their election coverage and for being the first to call Arizona for Joe Biden. Except CNN didn’t make that call — Fox News did.