HBO Max Finds Its Lobster

Kinsey Grant for Morning Brew:

HBO Max, the streaming service AT&T’s WarnerMedia revealed yesterday, is paying a reported $425 million for the exclusive rights for Friends when the show’s deal with Netflix expires in 2020. At least Monica can finally afford that apartment on her own.

AT&T, though, can’t afford to watch other heavyweights like Disney and NBC invest in their own direct-to-consumer streaming services without planting its own flag. So it’s launching HBO Max next spring with 10,000 hours of content—both originals and classics.

This is so interesting. Like, really really interesting. The deal kicks off with Friends which will catalyze thousands (if not a few hundred thousands) of subscribers alone. The real crown jewel will be the original programming such as Pretty Little Liars (including other works in the HBO pipeline I’m sure), and featured content from other networks. The Verge reports:

The service will feature content from “Warner Bros., New Line, DC Entertainment, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, The CW, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes, and more.”

Rooster Teeth? That’s new. I would have expected that from YouTube TV but HBO Max? Fascinating. It’s a pretty generous package to kick-off with. The direct-to-consumer streaming services well hasn’t dried up yet, but the options available aren’t the panacea we had hoped for. I suppose this is the future we wanted, and at least they’re competitive options. None of these services lock us in via expensive rented-hardware like cable-box providers. If anything, the programming is the lock-in. I think Netflix has learned that the hard way:

I wonder how many subscribers Netflix will lose post-Friends? Or better-yet, how will this affect their growth strategy?

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