- HBO has filed a trademark for its upcoming streaming service HBO Max in Australia, leading to speculation it may launch here.
- At present, Foxtel has an exclusive deal with HBO for its content, which is set to continue for two more years.
- The local market is packed with both local and international streaming offerings – meaning HBO Max would face significant competition.
- Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.
US television giant HBO has registered an Australian trademark for its streaming service HBO Max, suggesting it plans some form of entry into a crowded local video-on-demand market.
According to the filing, the HBO Max trademark covers “downloadable mobile software applications for use in the delivery and distribution of audio, video and multimedia entertainment content including text, data, images, audio, video and audiovisual files,” as well as “entertainment services in the nature of providing entertainment programs and content.”
HBO, which is owned by multimedia conglomerate WarnerMedia, is set to launch HBO Max in the US in May. It will feature HBO programming, as well as a slate of original content, content from across the WarnerMedia portfolio, and content from third-party providers.
The prospect of HBO making a local play will surely ruffle some feathers. Foxtel currently holds the exclusive rights to HBO content in Australia, which has included much-hyped shows like “Game of Thrones”, “Succession”, and “Westworld”. The most recent long-term deal between HBO and Foxtel, which kicked off in 2017, still has two years left to run. It’s no stretch to suggest that HBO content is one of the few compelling subscription drivers left in Foxtel’s arsenal.
When contacted by Business Insider Australia, a spokesperson for Foxtel said the company would not comment on content deals, but said it would be “natural” for a major global brand to protect its rights in the local market.
According to a source speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Nine-owned streaming service Stan is also interested in obtaining HBO content once the above deal runs out. HBO entering Australia with its own SVOD product would throw a spanner in the works of such a move.
The mere registration of a trademark does not, of course, suggest that HBO will actually launch its own product in Australia. It’s entirely possible the company would see greater benefit in partnering with a local service like Foxtel or Stan – at least in the near to mid-term.
The local streaming market is getting tight
If HBO did deign to make an Aussie entrance, it would face a number of challengers vying for the average consumer’s hip pocket.
Not only are major international players like Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video available, but local services like Stan and Foxtel also fight for eyeballs alongside SVOD offerings from the commercial TV networks. Niche interest platforms, like documentary platform DocPlay and “home of British TV” Acorn, are also making aggressive plays for specific kinds of viewers.
The traditional model of forking out somewhere in the vicinity of a hundred bucks a month for a Foxtel subscription has been obliterated by low-cost streaming services, but now companies must contend with the fact only the most content-obsessed consumers are likely to subscribe to more than a small handful of these services.
Whether or not HBO sees a place for its own service in this scrum leaves to be seen.
Business Insider Australia is published by Pedestrian Group, which is wholly-owned by Nine Entertainment Co.
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