Courtesy of WarnerMedia
The deal does not cover HBO Max/HBO distribution to Sling TV, Dish’s over-the-top pay TV service.
It marks a return to Dish for HBO after an extended hiatus. On Oct. 31, 2018, HBO and Cinemax channels were removed from Dish and Sling TV lineups, the first time the premium cabler’s nets had ever gone dark. At the time, Dish chairman Charlie Ergen accused AT&T of using HBO as “an economic weapon” and that the telco’s carriage terms for the premium channel were anticompetitive.
Terms of the WarnerMedia-Dish deal, as per usual, weren’t disclosed. The agreement comes after AT&T announced plans to spin off WarnerMedia and combine it with Discovery.
Dish was the last major pay-TV distributor that had not added HBO Max, as WarnerMedia was seeking to migrate legacy HBO subs to the streaming service. Like other traditional cable and satellite TV operators, Dish has steadily been losing customers to cord-cutting. But it’s still a substantial player, ending the first quarter with 8.69 million Dish TV subs.
For WarnerMedia, the resolution of the dispute with Dish and the additional HBO Max distribution promises to bulk up its direct-to-consumer rolls. In the second quarter HBO Max and HBO gained 2.8 million net subscribers, exceeding analyst and WarnerMedia’s expectations, and AT&T upped its year-end forecast for HBO/HBO Max subs.
“When we launched HBO Max, we set out to make it available to customers everywhere they chose to access premium content, and today’s launch with Dish is a key addition to our distribution strategy for the platform,” Scott Miller, WarnerMedia’s EVP of business and legal affairs, said in a statement. “We’re excited that Dish customers can now access all that HBO Max – as well as our premium linear networks — have to offer.”
Under the new WarnerMedia pact, Dish TV customers can subscribe to the HBO Max ad-free plan for $12 per month for up to 12 months when they subscribe by Oct. 27, 2021, a 20% discount off the standard $14.99/month price. They can access HBO Max on the web and any supported device, including iOS and Android, Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV and more. Additionally, Dish TV customers will get six live channels, including HBO, HBO Family and HBO Signature, as well as access to thousands of movies and shows on demand.
Dish TV customers can also subscribe to Cinemax for $10 per month. The subscription includes three live channels — Cinemax, 5-Star Max and More Max — as well as access to thousands of movies on demand.
As part of the companies’ deal, Dish is offering customers 10-day free preview access to HBO and Cinemax, running from Aug. 6-15.
“Our No. 1 priority at Dish is and always has been to provide our customers the best entertainment experience,” Dish TV group president Brian Neylon said in a statement. “Our customers now have greater choice in the content they can access. HBO Max and Cinemax offer iconic, beloved and acclaimed content that our customers will enjoy.”
Launched in May 2020, HBO Max currently provides more than 13,000 hours of premium content from HBO, Warner Bros., DC, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies and more.
In 2021, HBO Max is streaming the entire Warner Bros. movie slate on the same day they premiere in theaters, available on the platform for 31 days from release. Next year, Warner Bros. will produce at least 10 exclusive movies for HBO Max.
For Dish TV subs, access to HBO and Cinemax on-demand content requires an internet-connected Dish Hopper or Wally device.
Variety's Todd Spangler contributed to this post.