Return of HBO Max to Amazon Shows Scale Matters

Fifteen months after leaving the platform, HBO Max is returning to Amazon Prime.

Amazon announced the move in a news release Tuesday (Dec. 6), saying its members can now subscribe to HBO Max via Prime for $14.99 per month. 

Terms of the deal were not released, although Bruce Campbell, chief strategy officer for HBO parent Warners Bros. Discovery said in a widely-quoted statement that the arrangement gives HBO an expanded audience and moves forward the company’s “data-driven approach to understanding our customers.”

That audience includes about 64% of the adult U.S. population, an estimated 166 million people — other estimates place the figure even higher — who are subscribed to Amazon Prime. HBO Max, meanwhile, had just under 95 million subscribers at the end of its most recent quarter. 

HBO Max left Amazon Prime in September 2021, losing 5 million subscribers in the process as the company looked to forge a more direct relationship with customers. Former owner AT&T later said that loss was offset by gains in advertising-based video-on-demand subscribers and international customers.

Earlier this year, AT&T spun off its WarnerMedia unit, merging with Discovery to create a new media giant with a host of studios and cable channels. The company plans to combine HBO and Discovery+ into one entity — reportedly dubbed “Max” — which is set to go live next year.

New CEO David Zaslav has cut back on spending on HBO programming, though Monday’s release argued there are still “15,000 hours” of content Amazon members will gain access to.

The news comes as streaming services remain a sole bright spot as consumers begin to rethink their retail subscriptions, as recent PYMNTS research has discovered.

We found that while a little more than 80% of American households have a subscription, this belies important trends that show a shift in sentiment among consumers, with subscription rates down in every category but streaming entertainment.

Noting that the average subscription per subscriber fell to the lowest level since early 2021, we found that the average consumer canceled at least one retail subscription, holding an average of 2.9 in September, compared to 4.1 in July. Streaming media subscriptions, meanwhile, were up 6.5% year on year.