HBO Max has quietly cut its $14.99 monthly subscription fee in half to try to offset the service’s departure from Amazon Prime Channels — the latter platform affording Prime members access to third-party streaming services.
The limited-time $7.49 Max subscription fee is for all HBO subs — new and old — and available through Sept. 26, according to WarnerMedia. The temporary price cut makes Max less expensive than Prime Video and Netflix priced at $8.99 each.
Max’s exit — spearheaded in part by WarnerMedia’s desire to secure subscribers directly and not pay Amazon a fee — is projected to cost the property as many as 5 million subscribers.
Max, which recently launched in Latin America, is slated to bow service in Eastern Europe in October. WarnerMedia recently lifted its sub projections for HBO and HBO Max to a combined 73 million from previous estimates of 67 million to 70 million.
Discovery April 15 announced that its Discovery+ subscription streaming video service is now available on Prime Video Channels in the United States. The streamer launched in the U.S. in January on most devices and services, including Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Edition smart TVs.
The latter is a platform for Prime members that enables access to third-party over-the-top video services for a separate or reduced fee. Amazon keeps a percentage of revenue and user info from each service, while delivering them access to millions potential subscribers.
The streamer features more than 55,000 episodes of current and classic TV shows from Discovery’s portfolio of networks, including HGTV, Food Network, TLC, ID, OWN, Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, A&E, The HISTORY Channel, Lifetime, Animal Planet and the forthcoming Magnolia Network, as well as more than 50 original titles.
“Today’s launch on Amazon Prime Video Channels expands Discovery+ access … beyond Fire TV streaming devices and Fire TV Edition Smart TVs,” Gabriel Sauerhoff, SVP of digital distribution and commercial partnerships at Discovery, said in a statement. “This innovative relationship provides multiple, compelling ways for us to reach and delight consumers with a truly differentiated streaming experience through Discovery+.”
The ad-free version of Discovery+ is available on Prime Video Channels for $6.99 per month and the less-expensive ($4.99) ad-supported version of the service will be available in the coming months. Prime members can subscribe with no extra apps to download, and no cable required by visiting amazon.com/channels/discoveryplus. The channel subscription can be canceled at any time.
“Adding Discovery+ reinforces Prime Video Channels’ promise of bringing the best [online] shows to our members, all in one place,” said Soumya Sriraman, head of Prime Video Channels. “With a Discovery+ channel subscription, Prime members now have even more ways to access content they love directly on Prime Video.” Shows include “Magnolia Table With Joanna Gaines,” “Guy’s Grocery Games” and “Bobby and Giada in Italy,” among others.
Hemingway, a documentary from filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick chronicling the life of literary icon Ernest Hemingway, will be available to stream on the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel on April 5.
The channel will also be streaming a 4K Ultra High-Definition version of the program beginning April 11. The subscription rate for the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel is $3.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.
The title will come out on Blu-ray and DVD May 4.
The three-part, six-hour film examines the life and work of Hemingway, one of the most influential writers America has ever produced. Narrated by long-time collaborator Peter Coyote, the series features an all-star cast of actors bringing Hemingway (voiced by Jeff Daniels), his friends and family to life. Through letters to and from his four wives — voiced by Meryl Streep, Keri Russell, Mary-Louise Parker and Patricia Clarkson — the film reveals Hemingway at his most romantic and his most vulnerable, grappling at times with insecurity, anxiety and existential loneliness.
Burns and Novick paint a picture of Hemingway, who captured on paper the complexities of the human condition in profound prose, and whose work remains deeply influential around the world. Informed by interviews with celebrated writers, scholars and Hemingway’s son Patrick, the filmmakers explore the painstaking process through which Hemingway created some of the most notable works of fiction, in novels such as The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea; short stories “Hills Like White Elephants,” “The Short and Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” “Up in Michigan,” “Indian Camp” and “The Snows of Kilimanjaro;” as well as the nonfiction works Death in the Afternoon and A Moveable Feast.
His relationships with women — his mother, sisters, wives and the World War I nurse who broke his heart — profoundly affected his work. Yet for all his bravado and hyper-masculine posturing, Hemingway wrote about relationships between men and women with sensitivity, nuance and clarity.
The filmmakers were granted unusually open access to the treasure trove of Hemingway’s manuscripts, correspondence, scrapbooks and photographs housed at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. The film also explores Hemingway’s limitations and biases as an artist and a man of his time.
BritBox, the subscription streaming video service launched in North America in 2017 by BBC Studios and ITV, now has distribution via Amazon Prime Video Channels in the U.K. The service just topped 500,000 subscribers there after launching in 2019. The platform is projected to reach 2 million U.K. subs by 2023.
BritBox, which features British-themed TV shows and movies, and was launched to compete against AMC Networks’ Acorn TV and Netflix, among others, has more than 1.2 million subs in North America.
“We are excited to bring the very best British entertainment to an even wider audience through Amazon, especially as we launch more original content in the spring,” Will Harrison, managing director of BritBox U.K., said in a statement.
BritBox originals include Splitting Image, The Beast Must Die, and “Hope Street,” a new serial crime drama set in Northern Ireland.
Four new “Masterpiece” programs and several international series will be streaming on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in January.
“Masterpiece” titles include a new adaptation of “All Creatures Great and Small,” starring Dame Diana Rigg in one of her last appearances, the newest “Masterpiece Mystery” installment “Miss Scarlet & the Duke,” “Elizabeth Is Missing” based on the acclaimed novel starring Oscar-winner Glenda Jackson, and “The Long Song” based on the award-winning novel.
The subscription rate for the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel is $5.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.
“Elizabeth Is Missing,” debuting Jan. 3, stars Jackson as the feisty grandmother Maud Horsham, a woman desperately trying to solve two mysteries as she declines ever deeper into dementia. Maud’s only friend, Elizabeth, ominously goes missing, leaving Maud determined to find her. The other mystery in Maud’s mind is a puzzle from her past, kindled when she unearths the top of an old cosmetics compact while gardening with Elizabeth. The discovery takes Maud back to her teenaged self and like many younger siblings, Maud looked up to her big sister, Sukey, considering her the height of glamour. This childhood idyll ended with Sukey’s failure to come home one night in 1949, never to be seen again. As Maud thinks back on it, she wonders if the family’s lodger at the time, Douglas, had anything to do with Sukey’s vanishing. And the cryptic warnings from the long-ago mad woman with the umbrella only deepens the riddle. In her increasingly disoriented perception, the disappearances of Sukey and now Elizabeth get mixed up. She attacks the problem with a system she uses around the house: sticky notes, posted everywhere, documenting daily reminders to herself — mostly about locking the door or turning off the stove, but also recording her meetings with Elizabeth and chance observations. Maud’s granddaughter, Katy, helps her arrange the notes. As memories, clues, and deductions pile up, viewers come to see the world as Maud does, and solve the mystery as this tenacious, vision-haunted sleuth does.
“All Creatures Great and Small,” debuting Jan. 10, is based on the autobiographical books by James Herriot and tells the adventures of a veterinarian in 1930s Yorkshire. The series takes place in 1937, when James Herriot, fresh out of Glasgow Veterinary College, follows his dream to become a vet in the magnificent Yorkshire Dales, one of England’s most beloved and beautiful landscapes. He soon discovers that treating the animals is as much about treating their owners, and the Dales’ farmers are a tough crowd to please. At Skeldale House, James gets to know his newly formed dysfunctional family: his chaotic and erratic boss Siegfried Farnon, his wayward brother Tristan and the shrewd Mrs. Hall, who is endlessly steering the ship. When local beauty Helen Alderson attracts James’s attention, he finds another, more enduring reason to stay in the Dales. The late Dame Diana Rigg plays Mrs. Pumphrey, the delightfully eccentric owner of the overly indulged Pekingese Tricki Woo.
“Miss Scarlet & the Duke,” coming Jan. 17, is set in the same 1850s London society that gave rise to Jack the Ripper. The Victorian detective drama features a fearless, independent heroine played by Kate Phillips (“Peaky Blinders”). With her inquisitive mind, Miss Eliza Scarlet has always been more interested in running her late father’s detective agency than behaving like a proper lady, much to the chagrin of family friend Inspector William Wellington of Scotland Yard (Stuart Martin, “Jamestown”). But nothing has prepared her for the dangers she is about to face as a woman in the murder investigation trade.
“The Long Song,” due Jan. 31, is an adaptation of the award-winning novel by Andrea Levy set during the final days of slavery in 19th century Jamaica. The story follows the strong-willed, young slave July on a sugar plantation owned by her odious mistress Caroline Mortimer. When a charming new arrival to the island, Robert Goodwin, becomes the new overseer, July and Caroline are both intrigued by his seemingly revolutionary determination to improve the plantation for the slaves and mistress alike.
“As Time Goes By: Reunion Specials,” available Jan 26, is the continuation to the long running series “As Time Goes By.” “Reunion Specials” follows up as Jean Pargetter’s (Dame Judi Dench) great anticipation for grandchildren is revealed much to husband Lionel’s (Geoffrey Palmer) dismay. With son-in-law Alistair and daughter Judy having problems things don’t look too promising. But will Jean’s dream of becoming a grandmother come true when their other daughter Sandy and her husband Harry return from Canada?
Also due in January are five “Walter Presents” series.
The French series “Walter Presents: Due North” is streaming starting Jan. 1. Set on the verge of the 20th century, “True North” is the untold story of the colonization of the Laurentian mountain rage in Quebec known as the “Wild West.” The series explores the turbulent period of the settlement and development of this northern region of Canada as the territory wreaks havoc on the new colony and an array of colorful characters try to make their mark
The German series “Walter Presents: The Nordic Murders” is coming Jan. 8. On the secluded island of Usedom off the north shore of Germany, former district attorney Karin Lossow has just been released from prison after serving a six-year sentence for shooting her husband. Her daughter Julia is the Detective Chief Inspector and their fragile relationship is put to the test as they team up to investigate criminal cases on the island.
The French-language series “Walter Presents: The Wall” is coming Jan. 15. In the remote Canadian mining colony Fremote, in the endless frozen hell that is the far North, the body of a young exotic dancer is found. The Quebec City police sends one of their toughest, most experienced detectives, Céline, to the colony to investigate. She is always up for a challenge. Being cooped up in the massive structure that is the colony which the inhabitants call “The Wall,” soon presents her with some challenges that exceed her investigative efforts. Not only does everyone here seem to have a secret and a connection to the victim, Céline’s own past has a way of catching up with her. Her estranged daughter Sophie has built a life of her own in the very same icy middle of nowhere where Céline is currently working. As Céline comes under increased pressure to find the killer of the dancer, she has to connect the dots to the suspicious death of a young boy three years ago. The inhabitants of the mine each think they know exactly who the culprit is, creating a sense of distrust and alarm among the community, but one fear is always present: will the murderer strike again soon?
Season three of the Italian series “Walter Presents: Rocco Schiavone” starts streaming Jan. 22. Deputy Police Commissioner Rocco Schiavone finds himself more and more alone, in the increasingly colder and inhospitable city of Aosta, forced to come to terms with everything that has happened. His best friend, Sebastiano, is under house arrest and refuses to speak to him as he’s convinced that Rocco had him arrested before he could kill Enzo Baiocchi, the man who murdered his wife. Rocco’s future doesn’t look great after Sebastiano escapes house arrest and everything in Rocco’s life starts to fall apart. It appears that he has no choice but to escape, leaving no trace of his whereabouts.
From the acclaimed novel by Louise Edrich comes the adapted historical German drama “Walter Presents: The Master Butcher,” due Jan. 29. After the social and financial destruction caused by World War I in Germany, a German butcher, and former military sniper, attempts to create a better life for himself and his family by moving to the United States. As the family struggles to acclimate to their new surroundings, many unexpected events occur, necessitating their plans and their lives to drastically adapt.
Soumya Sriraman, former CEO of British-content subscription streaming VOD service BritBox, has reportedly joined Amazon as leader of the e-commerce behemoth’s Prime Channels platform in the United States.
Launched in 2015, Prime Channels affords Prime members access to third-party SVOD services such as Showtime, Starz, HBO Now, PBS, Shudder, CBS All Access and Acorn TV — the latter a direct competitor to BritBox.
Sriraman replaces Daniel Brown, who managed Prime Channels for two years until transitioning to a management position within Amazon’s corporate office. On Oct. 6, it was announced Sriraman would be leaving BritBox at the end of the month. She helped launch the service with BBC Studios and ITV in the United States. in 2017, after a stint as EVP franchise and digital enterprises at BBC Studios — Americas. BritBox, which launched a British edition last November, has about 1.5 million subs in the United States.
PBS Distribution Sept. 15 launched its streaming channel PBS Masterpiece on Amazon Prime Video Channels for Canada.
“We have seen tremendous consumer demand and subscription growth since we launched PBS Masterpiece on Amazon Prime Video Channels in the United States in May of 2017,” Andrea Downing, co-president of PBS Distribution, said in a statement. “This expansion allows our committed and loyal Masterpiece fan base in Canada to enjoy these high-quality, award winning programs whenever they like.”
The channel launches with popular Masterpiece programs such as “Sanditon,” “Endeavour,” “Home Fires,” “Inspector Lewis,” “Poldark” and “Victoria.”
In addition to Masterpiece programming, the channel will also offer titles from the Walter Presents library of series from countries all over the world, subtitled in English, marking the debut of Walter Presents programs to Canadian audiences. Titles include the highest-rated drama in Denmark, “Seaside Hotel,” and crime thriller/mysteries “Professor T,” “Though Shall Not Kill” and “Before we Die,” among many others.
“I am genuinely thrilled to be launching Walter Presents in Canada, with its rich, bi-lingual culture and its history of active engagement with the world as well as its long-standing appreciation of world drama,” said Walter Iuzzolino, co-founder and curator of Walter Presents, in a statement. “I know Canadian audiences will embrace our collection of quality, award-winning series with a sense of curiosity and with real gusto.”
The subscription rate for PBS Masterpiece in Canada will be CDN $6.99 per month plus applicable taxes with an Amazon Prime membership.
ViacomCBS Sept. 9 disclosed that its branded subscription streaming video-on-demand service, CBS All Access, has renewed distribution through Amazon Channels. The latter is a platform for Prime members enabling access to third-party over-the-top video services for a separate or reduced fee. Amazon keeps a percentage of revenue and user intel from each service while delivering them millions subscribers.
ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish, speaking Sept. 9 on the Bank of America Virtual Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference, said the distribution deal with Amazon contributed to All Access and Showtime OTT generating 16 million combined subscribers through the end of the most-recent fiscal period.
“[Amazon] continue[s] to be an excellent partner for us, and we for them,” Bakish said.
With Disney generating incremental Disney+ subs by bundling the SVOD with Hulu and ESPN+, Bakish was asked if All Access, Showtime and Pluto TV would be bundled. The executive said the platforms would continue to be marketed separately and in select bundles.
The media giant currently offers a $9.99 monthly bundle of All Access and Showtime on Apple TV Channels — a branded platform affording iOS users access to third-party OTT video services for a separate fee. ViacomCBS has separate deals with with Comcast, Verizon and Viveo, among others.
Bakish said the agreements help maximize the value of ViacomCBS content across all platforms, and allows the company to benefit from an ecosystem that is becoming more integrated over time. The executive said ViacomCBS would explore other bundling opportunities as well as more generally increased distribution through other streaming partnerships.
“We believe this approach serves the broadest set of consumers’ needs and therefore the largest consumer base,” Bakish said. “It enables the most ubiquitous distribution, and we’ve learned overtime ubiquitous distribution is extremely powerful.”
HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s high-profile SVOD platform, generated about 87,000 app downloads on portable devices, according to new data from Sensor Tower. While the tally doesn’t include migration of HBO and HBO Now subs to the new platform, it still is significantly below the 300,000 app downloads upstart Quibi generated on its first day April 7.
Distribution is key to over-the-top video penetration, and HBO Max didn’t quite have all its channels lined up when it launched service on May 27. Notably missing: Amazon Prime Channels, Roku and Comcast Xfinity.
Later in the day, Max parent WarnerMedia announced it had come to an agreement with Comcast enabling Xfinity and Flex subs to access Max (separate subscription required). This was a big deal since Comcast Cable has more than 20 million video subs and its own competing Peacock SVOD/AVOD service.
Regardless, Max desperately needs as many distributors as possible to stay competitive in the subscriber numbers game with Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu.
“We’re thrilled to cap off the excitement of today’s launch by adding Comcast’s Xfinity to our roster of distributors who are now offering HBO Max to their customers,” Rich Warren, president of WarnerMedia Distribution, said in a statement. “This deal marks another important step in the distribution of HBO Max and provides millions of Xfinity customers with access to the product.”
Max still lacks distribution through Amazon Prime Channels and Roku — both traditional must-haves for generating OTT subs if the service is going to reach 50 million subs without cannibalizing existing HBO Now, Go and pay-TV subs. Former HBO CEO Richard Plepler acknowledged Amazon was key to HBO Now generating 50% of its 8 million subs.
An Amazon spokesperson said that AT&T’s decision to bypass Prime Channels hurts HBO subs.
“We believe that if you’re paying for HBO, you’re entitled to the new programming through the method you’re already using. That’s just good customer service and that’s a priority for us,” Amazon said in a statement.
Ultimately, financial and data issues beneficial to all parties drive OTT video distribution deals via third part platforms such as such as Prime Channels, Roku and Apple TV+ Channels.
“Unfortunately we haven’t reached agreement yet with HBO Max,” Roku said in a statement. “While not on our platform [with 40 million subs] today, we look forward to helping Max in the future successfully scale their streaming business.”
Rebecca Heap, SVP of entertainment at Comcast Cable, said Max offers X1 and broadband-only Flex subs added content depth, including live content.
“We look forward to partnering with WarnerMedia to integrate the HBO Max app on our platforms alongside close to 200 other streaming services — all searchable with the award-winning Xfinity Voice Remote,” Heap said in a statement.
PBS Distribution is bowing seasons of three cooking shows in March on the PBS Living Prime Video Channel: six episodes of the new series “Somewhere South,” the third season of “Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street” and the first two seasons of “The Mind of a Chef.”
The subscription rate for the PBS Living Prime Video Channel is $2.99 a month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription. PBS Living is also available on Apple TV Channels in the Apple TV app at a subscription rate of $2.99 a month with no additional annual fees.
Available now are seasons one and two of “The Mind of a Chef,” combining travel, cooking, history, science, and humor into one culinary journey. The series goes inside the kitchen and mind of acclaimed chefs from around the globe. Examining the intricacies of what it takes to become a remarkable chef, season one, narrated by Anthony Bourdain, follows David Chang who has earned almost every major cooking award. Chang travels to Japan to speak about his ramen roots and then to Montreal with comedian Aziz Ansari to satiate his thirst for culinary inspiration. Season two is split into two parts, following chefs Sean Brock and April Bloomfield, with eight episodes on each. Brock is renowned for his expansion and preservation of traditional Southern cooking traditions and through extensive historical research, his cuisine has shined a spotlight on the varieties of crops that once made America the envy of the world. British-born Bloomfield got drunk with friends the night before her police academy exam and overslept her chance to join the force, eventually leading to April becoming known as one of the most innovative chefs of her generation. April wrestles with the demands of opening a new restaurant, tests menu ideas, obsesses over ingredients, and cooks with her mentors and contemporaries.
Due March 23 is season three of “Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street,” in which Kimball and his team travel the globe searching for techniques and ingredients that can transform home cooking, producing better dishes and in less time. Viewers travel along from the very first bite to a perfectly executed recipe. The team travels to Mexico, Lebanon, France, Thailand, Italy, Australia and many other countries. They might find a new way to use spices, a simpler way to cook chicken, a fresh combination of spices or tricks and techniques that turn classic dishes into something a little more unique.
Coming March 28 are six episodes of the new show “Somewhere South,” in which celebrity chef, author, restaurateur and award-winning host for PBS’ “A Chef’s Life,” Vivian Howard, hosts a culinary journey that explores the cultural twists on classic dishes and new traditions that are being formed in the American South. Howard examines popular dishes such as dumplings, hand pies, porridge and many others and speaks on how these dishes change from culture to culture. In North Carolina, Howard tries the collard sandwich, a staple of Lumbee Indian cuisine in the Carolinas. Then she goes to West Virginia to eat pepperoni rolls, a dish inspired by coal miners. She travels to Charleston, where rice is king, and enjoys grits along with other rice dishes that are among the favorites of South Carolina’s bustling food scene.