Why HBO Max Needs to ‘Blink First’ in Standoff With Roku

”HBO needed to break the deadlock and find a compromise“ with Roku, analyst Tony Maroulis says

Putting aside its impact on the theater business for a moment, WarnerMedia’s decision to release 18 films on HBO Max over the next year has suddenly upped the stakes in its ongoing negotiations with Roku. Since launching in late May, HBO Max has been conspicuously absent from the nation’s largest streaming platform, as the two sides haggle over a distribution deal. Now, it’s worth asking, who holds the upper hand?

The answer, according to a analysts, still appears to be Roku — whose stock closed on Friday at all-time high of $296.38 per share. “In this game of high stakes poker, it’s HBO that blinks first with the pressure on around distribution and subscriber growth,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said. “With the streaming wars heating up more, and especially given their price points and content pressures, we see HBO needs to ink a deal. It’s important to Roku as well, but it’s a key ingredient for success in our opinion around HBO Max into 2021 and beyond.”

Become a member to read more.

Sean Burch

Tech reporter • sean.burch@thewrap.com • @SeanB44  

Tim Baysinger

TV reporter • tim.baysinger@thewrap.com • Twitter: @tim_bays