Beginning on September 15, anyone who once subscribed to HBO via their Amazon Prime Video account will have their subscription terminated as part of a deal cut by HBO’s parent company, WarnerMedia, to remove the channel from Prime Video’s Channels service.
Previously, a placement deal that secured HBO’s presence in the Amazon Channels store had allowed users to access regular HBO programming within the Amazon Fire TV user interface, allowing customers to easily sign up through their Amazon accounts. But that deal had resulted in a “major sticking point” during negotiations when it came to getting HBO Max, the company’s primary streaming service, its own app on the Amazon Fire TV platform—leading WarnerMedia to yank HBO from “channels” entirely in an effort to cut out the middleman.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the exodus will amount to roughly 5 million canceled subscriptions for HBO, which had previously allowed users to individually subscribe via Amazon’s third-party channels platform for $15 a month. But that loss will be worth it, WarnerMedia has reasoned, if it will mean shifting to allow HBO Max to become the primary entry point for subscribers who want to access its proprietary streaming content.
In an interview with Bloomberg in August, Andy Forssell, the chief executive over at HBO Max, said that a short-term culling makes sense in the long run if it will mean that the company can consolidate access in order to cultivate a more direct relationship with consumers.
“It’s important for us to own the customer,” Forssell said. “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.”
As part of the agreement reached between WarnerMedia and Amazon, HBO Max will now be available to access as a standalone app on Amazon Fire TV devices, and anyone who purchased an HBO subscription through the channels platform will have their HBO Max access rolled over for no additional cost. According to an unnamed WarnerMedia executive who spoke to The Hollywood Reporter, anyone who has had an HBO subscription canceled through Amazon will be eligible for a pro-rated refund based on their last billing cycle, and will also be eligible to receive an unspecified special offer after their subscriptions are canceled.