WarnerMedia has confirmed it will launch its streaming service HBO Max in the Nordics and Spain this autumn, followed by Central and Eastern Europe as well as Portugal next year.
The company’s EMEA and Asia president Priya Dogra and HBO Max EMEA general manager Christina Sulebakk teased the European kick-off in a talk at French TV festival and industry meeting Series Mania on Tuesday (August 31).
Earlier this summer, WarnerMedia chief financial officer Pascal Desroches suggested that the European launch of HBO Max would be delayed until 2022 so that the company could focus on the platform’s rollout in Latin America.
Sulebakk, who joined WarnerMedia in 2012 to oversee the launch of HBO Nordic and then spearheaded HBO’s central Eastern and European operations as well as HBO España in 2016 and HBO Portugal in 2019, set the record straight.
“Yes, we are coming to Europe this year,” she said. “I know there has been a lot of speculation about delays due to our mass rollout in Latam earlier this year but we’re going to be launching in the Nordic region and in Spain this fall and then we will be expanding to Central, Eastern Europe and Portugal next year. So we will be covering the 20 markets we currently operate in with HBO.”
There were no details on when the platform would launch in major territories like Germany and France. Screen has heard from the sources in France that HBO Max may not arrive there until 2024 due to a combination of the country’s media window laws and existing partnerships.
“The plan is, of course, to go global but we will do that with a staggered approach. We’re looking into new market launches when appropriate,” said Sulebakk.
Dogra, whose remit covers programming for the existing networks, HBO Max’s content strategy and monetising WarnerMedia’s US-created content, emphasised the importance of Europe as a market.
“Europe is a huge priority for us,” she said. “We now have the US and Latin America under our belt and we feel very good about successes there and the growth we’re seeing there. Europe is a complicated market but it’s an exciting one.”
Droga and Sulebakk said that while WarnerMedia’s library and new original shows and films out of the US would be at the heart of the HBO Max offering there was also space for third-party content, from both big studios and independent producers
They added that new European Union audiovisual legislation stipulating a 30% European content quota for platforms and TV channels operating in the region was not an issue as WarnerMedia already had a history of working with local creators and producers in Europe.
“We’re committed to connecting with audiences and the way you connect with audiences is consumers want to see their lives, communities and their ways of life reflected on the screen and the way you do that is by telling local stories and working with local creators. We have been committed to this for decades making films, series and documentaries across Europe,” said Dogra.