Months after HBO Max launched, it’s finally coming to one of the largest smart TV platforms around. Today Roku announced that HBO Max would finally be available on December 17 and timed (of course) with the release of HBO Max’s biggest original content to date, Wonder Woman 1984.
Wonder Woman 1984 was originally planned as a theatrical release but after the pandemic (and allegedly, Christopher Nolan) left theaters devastated and shuttered, Warner made the decision to release it on HBO Max instead. The move coincided with Warner’s declaration that all its 2021 film releases would also premiere on HBO Max alongside their theatrical releases. That news has sent a ripple of shock through the filmmaking community with directors, in particular, being upset by the move.
Roku fans were also upset, because for months now HBO Max has been a no show. Roku itself currently holds a mighty share of the smart TV platform market and that’s allowed it to negotiate lucrative deals with third party streamers like HBO Max. In August, Variety reported that Roku asks a whopping 30% of ad inventory and 20% of subscription costs from third-party apps like HBO Max. As we noted at the time, that’s Apple-level bargaining. Warner naturally balked at the requested cut and Roku users have been stuck with a lesser HBO app for months.
But a deal had to eventually happen. Just as you wouldn’t launch most mobile phone apps without an iOS version, you really can’t launch a new service without support for Roku. Between the wickedly low price of a Roku box, its prevalence in big box stores, and its many partnerships with cable companies, it’s usually harder to find a home that doesn’t have at least one Roku box lying around.
Now, most of those boxes will start supporting HBO Max on December 17. While Wonder Woman 1984 won’t be available until December 25, HBO Max has done a solid job with its current original programming. Shows like Doom Patrol, The Flight Attendant, and Harley Quinn should last you until Diana Prince dresses up like a giant golden bird and beats on the unholy marriage of Kristen Wiig and Cats.