WarnerMedia has been steadfast believing that a deal would get done by the end of 2020 with Amazon Fire and Roku. Good to see that Amazon has inked a deal first and their Fire TV and stick users will be able to stream HBO Max starting Tuesday November 17, 2020.
The companies announced this morning HBO Max would begin to roll out to Amazon Fire TV streaming devices, Fire TV Edition smart TVs, and Fire tablets on Tuesday, November 17. This will expand HBO Max’s potential reach to “tens of millions” of Amazon device customers, WarnerMedia said.
And yes, we’re aware there are some workarounds, like using Apple Air2Play and casting from an iPhone or Tablet, but there are a lot of ifs, ands and buts to make that work. Roku needs to ink a real deal and fire up the HBO Max app that we all know is already made and waiting to be activated on Roku.
Despite whatever this means for Roku, it’s good news and we’ll take it. HBO Max should have been available from the start on Amazon and Roku, but one down, one to go.
This is 2020, not 1960. Technology exists to share info with the masses quickly, easily and gain feedback: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, a company blog post, etc.
We live in a social time where just about everything seems to find its way online. Why not release the deal terms being discussed “behind the scenes” that are impacting us — customers — so we can see who is being “reasonable” and who is being “greedy.”
I think given the amount of time behind the scenes that a deal between HBO Max, Peacock and Amazon (Fire) and Roku hasn’t been made suggests a more radical solution.
The standoffs, of course, revolve around money. More than that, the distribution disputes are about long-term strategic access to rapidly growing streaming-first audiences, as well as advertising inventory. One media company exec says Roku and Amazon are asking for “egregious” terms. On the other side, an insider at one of the over-the-top platform providers says they’re simply looking for “a reasonable share” of the value they create for partners — and adds that companies like WarnerMedia and NBCU are coming to the table with an “old TV mindset.”
Is it too much to ask for transparency in this day and age from the companies we do business with? So many times we’re like pawns on the chessboard while the real chess masters play their game behind some gigantic curtain.
I’ve written several posts about how this is stupid and hurting us, customers, at a time when neither side should want that:
(Site navigation tip: just use the search for “Roku” is how to quickly pull up these past posts)
If Roku and Amazon are asking for a reasonable deal and it’s HBO Max and/or Peacock that’s being greedy don’t subscribers have a right to decide if they want to support that?
I’m tired of companies claiming something without showing us any facts. Put up or shut up. Put the deal out there so we can see who’s being reasonable and who’s not.
You never know, maybe some of your customers can help you get over this impasse? Both sides digging in and not budging isn’t going to reach some compromise.
What do you think? Would you like to see the deal terms so that you can judge for yourself who’s responsible for not making this go through? How long should we all wait in the dark while they “work this deal out in private”? Sorry to be impatient, but sometimes you get things done when you try something different. Whatever both sides are doing doesn’t seem to be working.
Ok, so it’s not exactly the same reference — Dolly is singing about a lover entering her life and leaving with some arrogance — but it’s the song that jumped immediately into my head when I saw Peacock is a week away from their big launch and doesn’t yet have Roku or Amazon Fire support — just like HBO Max launched in May and still doesn’t.
It’s the latest example of brinkmanship between new streaming video services and the devices you use to watch them. Roku and Amazon Fire TV streaming devices and smart TVs are incredibly popular, with a combined 70% of the streaming player market and roughly 80 million active users between them. But rather than act as neutral platforms offering up channels, companies like Roku and Amazon have grown more aggressive in their negotiations with new streaming services, leading to impasses that have kept high-profile services from launching on their devices.
What’s worse is the Peacock “top exec” doesn’t seem to be that concerned. This is 80+ million households, 80+ million potential customers (those you don’t already have with your Flex box) that you have to hope will reach you another way. Sigh.
One has to ask, is Peacock is following HBO Max’s lead and telling Roku and Amazon Fire they won’t play ball and cut them into their margins?
While these people can’t get in the same room and work this out, the rest of us suffer out here through convoluted usability. Those who love using the Roku UI or Apple Fire TV are denied access to HBO Max, Quibi and, if they don’t work this out in the next week, Peacock.
Amazon I can see playing hard ball. They have always done things pretty much their own way — and quite successfully the vast majority of time in their core market. They focus on selling “stuff” and they do that extremely well. It’s often their sandbox and if you want to get in there with them, well, their rules. It’s their DNA. I fully expect we’ll see Amazon as a major studio force someday, just like we look at NBC and to a lesser extent HBO today. They are doing it their own way. Quibi? I don’t see them making it more than a couple years with their current direction. If they change, who knows, but you can’t just throw a bunch of money at a bad idea and make it a good business.
Roku? They aren’t a studio. They don’t produce anything except their Roku channel and their devices, which play other people’s “stuff.” Without other people’s creativity, their work, Roku has nothing to play. Amazon has done quite a bit for the creation of content, through their various book publishing models and through screenplays, movie and TV. Roku, at least to this writer’s knowledge, hasn’t done any of that.
So, I’m feeling less generous toward Roku. They are more leech-like in this scenario.
Again, when Roku first launched and nobody knew who the heck they were they would have done deals with both of these established companies in a heartbeat, even if it meant they got almost nothing in return. They forgot the people who got them where they are today — us. I get jaded by tech companies who forget their customers, except to use us against the content creators. “Look at the greedy studio, not wanting to get their movies and TV content on our platform for you.” That’s pretty rich.
Fast forward to some period of leadership in the streaming marketplace and the song has changed. Sing it, Dolly. At least you have it right. I shouldn’t end on a cliche, but it just fits too well.
I wasn’t planning on writing about Quibi again (see: Quibi is the Cats of streaming services) until they allow cast to TV option, and reportedly they are still working on it, which sounds like they are trying to do by lock up a similar agreement as HBO Max.
Quibi’s negotiations with Amazon have “recently picked back up,” according to a source familiar with the discussions. With Roku, talks about bringing Quibi to the platform are said to be in very early stages; a source cautioned that Roku may walk away from a deal based on the revenue-sharing agreement proposed by Quibi. (A Quibi rep did not provide comment on its talks with Roku and Amazon by press time.)
This got me thinking about who gets on Amazon Fire and Roku first? Just guessing, but I’m going with Quibi. WarnerMedia can last a lot longer on AT&T’s big dime than Quibi that seems to be heading toward the two minute mark holding their breath underwater.
Because who is first doesn’t matter, here’s some advice for both companies that does: get to both these platforms ASAP. While holding out, you’re just being stupid to your customers, both existing and potential new ones.
Recently, Hulu raised their TV streaming plan pricing for the second time in 2019. Unfortunately, they also started having more reliability problems. Hulu is now the most costly streaming TV options. Sling is the least expensive. Playstation Vue is closing its service at the end of January 2020. There are some ad-supported streaming TV options.
We haven’t subscribed to any live TV streaming for awhile and just canceled our Hulu plan after a free month.
One thing I did not appreciate was how many “are you sure you want to cancel” messages. I didn’t count, but it was like a half dozen or so screens. Yes, I’m sure. I’m sure. I’m really sure. Really. Seriously.
I only subscribed to watch a few mostly-exclusive movies and the Stephen King adapted miniseries 11/22/63 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for anniversary of the JFK assassination.
I should have chosen the ad-free option for the free month rather than the version with the ads, but after spending a month using the service, found the ads throughout the month not to be very intrusive. In fact, they seemed almost intelligent at times.
Turns out that they kinda are, as the technology watches what we watch and then implements ads based on viewing patterns.
These “binge watch ads” utilize machine learning techniques to predict when a viewer has begun to binge watch a show, then serves up contextually relevant ads that acknowledge a binge is underway. This culminates when the viewer reaches the third episode, at which point they’re informed the next episode is ad-free or presents a personalized offer from the brand partner.
If you’ve ever watched Sony’s Crackle, you know just how intrusive advertisements can be in exchange for “free” movies. I have watched free movies with ads on a few channels like VUDU and The ROKU channel.
Amazon Fire TV blocking ROKU’s DataXU
At the beginning of November, ROKU acquired DataXU ad targeting tech and it appears Amazon Fire TV, in a bid to increase usage of its own ad platform, is now blocking/preventing this third party ad blocking programs like DataXU:
Amazon’s move to restrict access to its inventory through third-party DSPs signals confidence from the company that it can grow demand for its ads without DataXu’s ad buyers. Amazon has a strong search ad business for its online marketplace, and it’s already the third-largest digital advertising company in the United States.
Clearly the swords are clashing over who will dominate the ad-free TV and movie marketplace. Amazon Prime Video shows one short ad for another Amazon Original before watching movies even in the paid subscription plan. Netflix doesn’t show ads, but does autoplay other shows when pausing on some screens or doing the hover-over when you click, which is also somewhat annoying.
Do you watch any ad-supported channels for movies or stick mostly (like us) with paid subscription channels?