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AT&T chief says tech giants like Amazon, Apple and Roku hold too much power over streaming

AT&T’s Chief Executive John Stankey says tech giants hold too much power over online streaming amid HBO Max’s struggle to get their service on Amazon and Roku.

Stankey, the head of HBO Max’s parent company, is calling for scrutiny into big companies like Amazon and Apple because they have power to control which apps and services they allow on their platforms. 

While HBO Max is growing its subscriber base, the app hasn’t come to a distribution deal with Amazon and Roku, according to the Wall Street Journal, which is a major blow as Roku and Amazon Fire TV are two of the most popular streaming devices in the country.  

Last year Roku and Amazon Fire TV represented 70 percent of streaming devices in the US, according to CNET

‘Where the bottlenecks are sometimes occurring are in these commercial agreements,’ Stankey said during the Wall Street Journal’s annual Tech Live event Monday that was hosted online due to the pandemic. 

AT&T's Chief Executive John Stankey says tech giants hold too much power over online streaming amid HBO Max’s struggle to get their service on Amazon and Roku

AT&T's Chief Executive John Stankey says tech giants hold too much power over online streaming amid HBO Max’s struggle to get their service on Amazon and Roku

AT&T’s Chief Executive John Stankey says tech giants hold too much power over online streaming amid HBO Max’s struggle to get their service on Amazon and Roku

HBO max launched in late May as a new video app and by the end of June had 4.1million people activate the app. However, the app hasn't come to a distribution deal with Amazon and Roku,  which have two of the most popular streaming devices in the country

HBO max launched in late May as a new video app and by the end of June had 4.1million people activate the app. However, the app hasn't come to a distribution deal with Amazon and Roku,  which have two of the most popular streaming devices in the country

HBO max launched in late May as a new video app and by the end of June had 4.1million people activate the app. However, the app hasn’t come to a distribution deal with Amazon and Roku,  which have two of the most popular streaming devices in the country

‘We should ask ourselves, is that friction somebody really feeling their oats and maybe having market power above and beyond what’s reasonable for innovation?’ he added.

HBO max launched in late May as a new video app, similar to Amazon Video, Apple TV+ and Disney+ seeking to profit of the demand for online TV, and offers series like Friends, The Big Bang Theory and HBO’s library of original TV series.  

AT&T is trying to grow their HBO Max subscriber base and convince existing viewers to switch to the Max app. This provides AT&T with better profits than the meek HBO line-up offered through cable partners like Comcast.

‘Our focus probably needs to be on equity of rules and engagement,’ Stanke said Monday.  

Stankey said he’s ‘very happy’ with the debut of the streaming service and its launch was ‘flawless’ despite its modest audience.  

HBO Max launched in late May and five months later is still not available on Amazon TV services. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos above

HBO Max launched in late May and five months later is still not available on Amazon TV services. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos above

HBO Max launched in late May and five months later is still not available on Amazon TV services. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos above

Amazon Fire TV, one of the nation's most popular TV streaming devices, pictured above

Amazon Fire TV, one of the nation's most popular TV streaming devices, pictured above

Amazon Fire TV, one of the nation’s most popular TV streaming devices, pictured above

By the end of June about 4.1million customers had activated HBO Max – a small slice of the 36million subscribers paying for any form of HBO. 

Still, Stankey said the app was doing ‘well beyond our objective of having over an hour of engagement’, adding ‘we still have to work to get the scaling done’.

Building up HBO Max has been a big focus of his as the pandemic left people at home to entertain themselves.

‘We’ve seen some dynamic occur where streaming becomes more important as people are holed up in their homes, choosing to entertainment themselves, and so very quickly it was clear a new day had dawned and there was going to be some acceleration involved,’ he said.

When asked to pick his favorite HBO show Stankey cited Westworld.

The Dallas-based CEO conceded there is room for improvement with HBO Max.

Five months after HBO Max was launched, it is still not available on Roku TV streaming services

Five months after HBO Max was launched, it is still not available on Roku TV streaming services

Five months after HBO Max was launched, it is still not available on Roku TV streaming services

Roku CEO Anthony Wood above

Roku CEO Anthony Wood above

Roku CEO Anthony Wood above

‘Am I satisfied that we’re clipping along at the right rate? I’d like to see that pace quicken.’

He noted the Disney was able to get ‘further up the customer acquisition curve than anybody expected’, reporting 10million sign-ups the day it launched last November and 60.5million global subscribers as of early August.

Stankey refused to comment on speculation about AT&T potentially selling assets like DirecTV.

‘I know there is a lot of speculation out there and I will not comment on anything specific,’ Stankey said. 

Source: Daily Mail

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