Sky TV says it has renewed its rights deal with Warner-owned HBO, and gained access to HBO Max content as part of an expanded deal.
HBO Max content will appear on Sky, and Sky-owned local streaming service Neon, from today.
HBO Max - positioned as a direct-to-consumer streaming service in the US - made headlines last year as Warner used it as its vehicle to stream blockbuster movies immediately to households during pandemic lockdowns.
There will be no extra costs for Sky or Neon customers for HBO Max content.
Earlier this year, Sky signed a deal with Discovery, which accommodates the NZ launch of the US giant's direct-to-consumer streaming service in NZ. As Sky's full-year result was delivered yesterday, CEO Sophie Moloney confirmed that Discovery+ would launch here shortly.
Does the new Sky TV-HBO deal allow for Warner to launch HBO Max in NZ, and sell its content directly to Kiwis?
The answer is complicated. "HBO Max" is both a brand for HBO's premium content, and the name of its direct-to-consumer streaming app.
The new Sky-HBO contract gives Sky exclusive rights HBO, Warner Bros. TV & Movies and HBO Max Original content.
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But HBO Max also carries third-party content that is not covered by the new deal, the Sky spokeswoman confirms - so there is wiggle room for Warner to launch its HBO Max direct-to-consumer app in NZ, if it features only content that the US giant has acquired from others.
But the bottom line is that at a time when it's had to give up some key entertainment content (its Disney channels with the launch of the direct-to-consumer Disney+) or share rights (Discovery), Sky has headed-off a full-blooded launch of HBO Max in NZ and can keep bragging right as NZ's exclusive home of HBO content.
Sky will not reveal the price it had to pay for this win, however.
Today, Moloney said securing an HBO renewal and HBO Max rights was part of her company's strategy of becoming a one-stop-shop aggregator for content - an approach that next year will expand as a new Sky box is released that includes support for third-party apps such as Netflix, Disney+, Amazon's Prime Video, Discovery+ and potentially Spark Sport.
A spokeswoman for Sky says the two companies have also signed a co-production agreement to create original New Zealand programming in NZ with a deal inked between Sky Originals and Warner Bros International Television Production NZ.
"We're not able to reveal details of the productions yet but hopefully that part will be well-received by the local creative sector after recent news," the spokeswoman said in a reference to Amazon pulling its Lord of the Rings production from NZ.