HBO Max shrugs off losing 5M subscribers through Amazon Channels

HBO Max’s exit from Amazon Prime Video Channels could cost it 5 million subscribers but the service seems content with trading short-term losses for more control.

Andy Forssell, general manager at HBO Max, spoke with Bloomberg about his company’s decision to leave Channels, an aggregated subscription platform that helped HBO grow but limited its ability to build direct relationships with customers.

“It’s important for us to own the customer,” he told the publication. “If the viewer is in the app, we can tailor the home page to them. We can tailor what they show them next. We can respond to that in real time.”

HBO Max called leaving Amazon Channels a strategic decision made by WarnerMedia and warned that there will be an impact on HBO Max and HBO domestic subscribers in the third quarter. However, that potential impact has already been considered into the company’s global subscriber guidance for the full year, which puts HBO and HBO Max at 70 million to 73 million global subscribers by the end of 2021.

RELATED: HBO Max expects subscriber impact from Amazon Channels exit

HBO Max has been working for a while now to get out of Amazon Channels and that negotiation was part of the reason why HBO Max was unavailable on Amazon Fire TV devices for much of 2020. According to the report, Amazon still has the right to communicate with HBO subscribers on its platform and it’s unclear if the company will be much help in moving those subscribers over to the HBO Max direct-to-consumer app.

AT&T is currently pursuing a deal to spin off and combine WarnerMedia—which includes HBO, Turner and Warner Bros.—with Discovery, Inc.

AT&T CFO Pascal Desroches, during an Oppenheimer investor conference earlier this month, said part of the reason AT&T is divesting HBO Max is because the company didn’t feel like it was getting an appropriate amount of credit from the market for its success.

“And we felt that a more efficient capital structure would be to provide WarnerMedia with its own capital structure and stock so that investors who are interested in media would be able to invest directly into WarnerMedia,” he said. “So, it's a combination of we needed to make sure we had additional investment capacity as well as making sure that our capital structure was efficient and provided -- and unlock value for shareholders.”