WBD International Chief Hints At Changes To Output Deal With Sky As Max Expands

Gerhard Zeiler, president of Warner Bros. Discovery international, said an HBO output deal with Sky overseas will likely not look the same if it’s renewed. Sky has licensed content through the end of 2025 but it comes as no surprise that WBD will look to tweak that as Max expands globally. The streaming service wants a beachhead in the UK, Germany, Italy (and other markets) and needs HBO and Warner Bros. programming.

“We see it every single day — that this content is working. Every single day we see the ratings for the Warner Bros. and the HBO content which we sell to Sky.”

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“Sky was always a great partner for us, and it’s still a great partner today. That’s number one. But we want, we need to, and we will launch Max in these three markets. These are three of the most important markets outside of the U.S. There is no reason we should not do that. Why should we disadvantage ourselves by not launching Max?” he asked during a Q&A at the MoffettNathanson media conference in New York.

The latest deal with Comcast-owned Sky was inked in 2019.

“How and when it’s too early to say. There are a lot of discussions going on. We have time,” he said. He said he doesn’t mean “we won’t have a relationship with Sky if they want.”

“You can’t be successful in streaming if you are not global,” he said. “You are really disadvantaged when it comes to monetization compared to your peers, and also when you want to get the transition right from linear to streaming.” WBD has a quite large presence in free-to-air television in Europe.

Zeiler said Max is currently in less than 50% of the addressable market of its rival streamers. WBD’s streaming revenue skews just 20% international.

Max is turbocharging its international expansion this month and next, becoming available across the Nordics, Iberia, and Central and Eastern Europe. The launches will follow closely after in Poland, the Netherlands, France, and Belgium, expanding the streamer to 25 countries in Europe and 65 countries and territories worldwide. It launched in Latin America and the Caribbean earlier this year. Max itself was rebranded (from HBO Max) and relaunched in May of 2023.

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