DEAL BREAKER? Roku asks 20% of subscription fees and 30% of ad inventory from partner channels, says Variety report

Roku channel search for HBO Max and Peacock still comes up empty (8/29/2020)

It’s been a little while since checking on the status of HBO Max and Peacock making a deal with Roku.

No deals have been cut yet, which would be the biggest and good news, but for those who want a recap on the history, here’s where all three sides appear to stand as of this writing. We will even slip in some bonus coverage on DC Universe at the end.

HBO Max and Peacock are chugging along, with perhaps HBO Max positioning itself more likely to gain better terms in the deal (see: Hey Roku, Peacock has 10+ million signups and HBO Max 4.5+ million). Meanwhile, Roku is losing some of its prime real estate to market its service (see: TCL Wants a Piece of Roku’s Action – Talk about HBO and Peacock Irony)

The parties are still negotiating, as far as we know, but some more information has come forward suggesting some of the possible behind the scenes numbers that we asked to see in public (see: Why not put the deal terms with Roku and Amazon Fire out there for everybody to see, HBO Max and Peacock?)

So far, Roku is refusing to cede ground on deal terms to add WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and NBCU’s Peacock to its popular streaming platform. Roku’s standard ask is 20% of subscription fees and 30% of ad inventory on partner channels. That ad split has been a nonstarter for Peacock, which is loading 5 minutes (or fewer) of advertising per hour. WarnerMedia, meanwhile, wants to retire the legacy HBO service sold through The Roku Channel to have HBO Max available as a standalone app, at which Roku has balked.

Roku Has Become a Gatekeeper in Premium Streaming – Variety

If these numbers are accurate, and we cannot independently verify, they do seem business adverse for HBO Max and Peacock. They’re great for Roku, of course, if they can cut this kind of deal.

What do you, friendly readers, think of these terms? Are they fair and reasonable? Should HBO Max and Peacock pay to access the playing field Roku and Amazon have developed (reportedly 70% of all streamers use Roku or the Amazon Fire stick).

Despite our frustration that no deal has been struck, we continue to primarily use Roku. We’ve used it around 10 years now. It has a very good UI. At the same time, we’ve been HBO Max and Peacock subscribers since their launch a few months ago and must use Chromecast for HBO max access and Comcast/Xfinity’s streaming box Flex for Peacock (see: The Quest for Xfinity Flex required for early Peacock Access – TV Shows and Movies A-Z List).

The most positive news we’ve seen come about since the launch of both platforms, is the belief that the Q4 2020 holiday season would put the most pressure on a deal. It remains to be seen just how much of a holiday season there will be in light of the pandemic, but subscribers can keep hoping that someday HBO Max and Peacock will be on Roku and Amazon Fire stick.

Just speculation on our part, but we believe HBO Max is more poised to cut a deal before Peacock, bearing Comcast has their own network of Cable, albeit they are battle scarred with the reduction of cable TV subscribers cutting chords and going to streaming. Comcast isn’t as likely to want to cut as deep into their nascent streaming efforts as WarnerMedia would likely be with HBO Max, since they are consolidating and even offering to offload some of their subsidiary projects like Crunchyroll:

WarnerMedia is looking to offload Crunchyroll, its anime subscription-streaming service — with an asking price of at least $1 billion — as parent company AT&T seeks to pay down debt, sources tell Variety. One of the potential buyers is Sony Pictures Entertainment, which operates the competing Funimation service.

WarnerMedia Looking to Sell Crunchyroll Anime-Streaming Service for at Least $1 Billion

Where does all this leave DC Universe?

Perhaps we’re in the shrinking tiny minority that wants to see DC Universe land on solid ground (it’s a weak movie and TV streaming service, admittedly), at least with it’s excellent comics-only subscription service, but Jim Lee remains the most optimistic public speaker (see: Jim Lee on DC Universe: “It’s definitely not going away”).

Our guess is that September 12, 2020 for the second leg of DC FanDome we’ll hear more about what’s happening. Hopefully that’s when we’ll find out Harley Quinn the animated series is renewed for season 3.

Somewhat ironically, DC Universe is and has been available on Roku. Crunchyroll, too.

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