HBO Max may make a comeback on Amazon Prime Video - report

HBO Max, which removed its service last summer from Amazon’s Prime Video Channels, may have another distribution agreement in the works with Amazon, Bloomberg reported Monday.

People familiar with the matter told the outlet a deal to resell HBO Max could come this year, but that Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) will only move forward with negotiations if Amazon agrees to additional terms, like data sharing about viewer behavior.

When HBO Max exited Amazon in 2021, Andy Forssell, then-general manager of HBO Max, told Bloomberg Amazon Channels limited HBO Max’s ability to build direct relationships with consumers. Forssell left WarnerMedia in April, ahead of the company’s merger with Discovery.

To mitigate potential subscriber losses from leaving Amazon, WarnerMedia offered new and returning HBO Max subscribers – along with consumers who accessed HBO via Prime Video Channels – a 50% discount on HBO Max’s ad-free plan, which came up to $7.49 per month.

All told, HBO and HBO Max reached nearly 70 million global subscribers at the end of Q3 2021.

HBO Max’s possible return to Amazon could allow WBD to seamlessly enhance its subscriber base. Especially as WBD is still working on combining HBO Max and Discovery+ into one platform. A bundle of the two services is also in the works, but a set release date has yet to be announced.

If HBO Max were to return to Amazon Channels, consumers would likely be able to use the Prime Video app to watch HBO Max content, according to a Lightshed blog post. This would mark the first time HBO Max subscribers can watch content without using the service's app.

But Lightshed also shared some speculation on how a data sharing agreement between Amazon and HBO Max would work out in the long run.

"Amazon has complete information on what its HBO Max viewers are doing," Lightshed wrote. "Given that Amazon has its own streaming video service, Prime Video, it is hard not to see how Amazon will use the HBO Max data to improve its own service at HBO Max's long-term expense."

Discovery+, which is currently available on Prime Video, has been testing data sharing with Amazon since last year. Though the companies have not yet reported any tangible results, such a partnership suggests Amazon might be revising its approach to consumer data.

WBD CEO David Zaslav has said the company wants to expand its consumer reach, but in a cost-effective way. The content from both HBO Max and Discovery+, Zaslav pointed out on WBD’s first quarter earnings call, is a “strong foundational offering [that] will allow us to invest and scale smartly and will uniquely position us in our drive to become a fully scaled global streaming leader.”

Although the two subscription services remain separated – for now – they’re each making progress in the streaming space. Discovery+ is now available within American Airlines’ inflight entertainment system, while HBO Max leads among other SVODs in customer satisfaction, according to recent data from Whip Media.