US entertainment giant HBO has registered an Australian trademark in a move that could further disrupt the local streaming market.
HBO formalised the trademark registration on January 28 and according to the Sydney Morning Herald, could be looking to launch its flagship streaming service HBO Max here in Australia.
HBO’s content currently sits exclusively with Foxtel, although SMH reports Nine’s Stan is looking to battle for the rights of popular shows such as Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Succession and Big Little Lies should they become available.
However, this could be disrupted should HBO proceed with launching a local streaming service.
HBO’s parent company Warner Media has confirmed HBO Max will launch in the US later this year and will include all existing HBO programming as well as a host of ‘Max Originals’.
According to the latest AT&T (which acquired Warner Media for $US85.4 billion in 2018) results, the service is already proving costly.
AT&T revealed it forewent $US1.2 billion in licensing revenue during the last quarter from withholding shows from rival streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu.
With 34 million existing HBO subscribers, AT&T has a readymade audience for the new service. But when the lost licensing revenue is combined future marketing and content costs, HBO Max could prove to be a costly service for the media giant.
While HBO has been clear in its desire to launch HBO Max in the US in May 2020, it has been far less clear with global expansion plans.
At the HBO Max unveiling event last year, WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey said the streaming service would only expand to Latin America and some of Europe in 2021.
He did suggest existing broadcast partners (such as Foxtel) could be used to launch the product globally.
“Leaning on our licensing relationships with key partners in territories where we believe market conditions warrant a different approach,” Stankey said.
It was similarly suggested last year Stan could partner with Disney+ as a local distribution partner.
However, Disney eventually pulled most of its content from both Stan and Foxtel and launched Disney+ independently.