Amazon Fire TV users are likely to lose their HBO app on Aug. 1, according to a report by Variety. The presence or absence of certain streaming apps on certain streaming devices is the latest and most bitterly-fought front in the so-called "streaming wars." Fans may soon be asked to choose between their Amazon device and their HBO subscription.
HBO Max launched in May, and so far has not managed to strike a deal with Amazon or Roku to get its app on either of the streaming devices. This duo represents a considerable chunk of the market, but for WarnerMedia, there has at least been the concession of existing HBO Now and HBO Go apps on Amazon and Roku devices. That will change soon, however. Starting on Aug. 1, HBO Now and HBO Go apps will reportedly be simplified into a single HBO app. (HBO Max will remain separate.) While Roku has agreed to host this service, Amazon Fire TV still has not.
HBO Max is the new streaming service from parent company WarnerMedia, designed to compete with the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and — of course — Amazon Prime Video. However, while it is branded with the familiar "HBO" name, HBO itself remains a separate cable channel, with a standalone streaming option available.
The issue with Amazon is reportedly not just the fact that the companies are now streaming competitors but is because of their past cooperation. HBO is currently available as an add-on to Amazon Prime Video as a "Prime Video Channel," and WarnerMedia has reportedly asked Amazon to remove this feature. Amazon is reluctant to do so, sources told Variety, leading to this current stalemate.
As for Roku, the streaming device is happy to update its HBO Now app to the new, simpler HBO app, but it is not budging on HBO Max. However, Roku, too, does not want to give up its HBO channel. An insider said that this would give WarnerMedia the rights to valuable user data that Roku and Amazon now collect instead.
"They want to aggregate all this content into a central experience," the source said. "But Netflix is never going to do that. Hulu is never going to do that. HBO did that early on, and now Amazon and Roku have a real problem because if HBO is not in their channels that model falls apart."
While the two companies squabble for an agreement, users may be the most upset out of anyone in this arrangement. Many are furious that they cannot get access to this new and exciting platform on their existing device, or else they're angry that they signed up for the service without realizing they wouldn't be able to project it on their TV.
For the time being, many HBO Max users are adapting by watching the channel through a gaming console like the Playstation 4 or the Xbox One, or by investing in a new streaming device. Google's Chromecast and Apple's Apple TV have both agreed to let HBO Max onto their devices. Still, some are wondering if this fight between industry giants will hurt any of them in the eyes of consumers, and how public perception of these feuds will fuel the streaming wars going forward.