Streaming is the future of sports broadcasts, but it’s unclear what that means for HBO Max.
The service, which launched a little over a year ago, added 2.7 million subscribers in Q1 2021 for a total of 44.2 million.
But HBO Max isn’t ready to join the sports streaming wars just yet, despite Turner Sports — another WarnerMedia subsidiary — signing a reported seven-year, $225 million deal with the NHL in April, in addition to rights it already holds for NBA, MLB, and NCAA men’s basketball broadcasts.
- When the NHL deal was announced, chairman of WarnerMedia news and sports Jeff Zucker downplayed its impact on HBO Max.
- “We’re going to figure that out now,” he said, later adding, “It’s not imminent and it’s not going to happen this year. Our emphasis in the year ahead will certainly be on TNT and TBS.”
A month later, AT&T announced that it was spinning off WarnerMedia to merge with Discovery in a $130 billion deal, but how that affects sports on HBO Max is still uncertain.
“It’s just not, ‘How do we present those games?’” Andy Forssell, general manager of HBO Max, said at an investor conference last week. “What shoulder content goes around it? Should the talent that’s connected to it be different in the digital world?”
While AT&T CEO John Stankey says “the new company will have a content spend that exceeds most of its industry peers,” the newly-titled Warner Bros. Discovery will face stiff competition from other services.
Disney, ViacomCBS, NBCUniversal, and Amazon have rights to stream everything from the NFL to WWE, and are already airing live sports on their respective services.