Max Launches Streaming Video Service in 20 European Countries

Warner Bros. Discovery May 21 announced that its Max subscription streaming service is now available in 20 countries across the Nordics, Iberia, and Central and Eastern Europe. The countries include Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

Max, which is available in the U.S., Latin America, and the Caribbean, will next debut June 11 in France, Poland and Monaco. The service will launch in the Netherlands on the same day, and in Belgium on July 1. (In both those countries, the streamer is still called HBO Max.) By July, Max will be available in 25 countries in Europe and 65 countries and territories worldwide. Max arrives in key Southeast Asia countries later this year.

The May 21 launch coincides with the pending debut of the second season of HBO original fantasy series “House of the Dragon,” which premiers on Max June 17. Titles available to stream now include current 2024 box office No. 1 Dune: Part Two, in addition to Warner Bros. Pictures movies Barbie, Wonka, Joker and the “Harry Potter” franchise. Premium series include “The Last of Us,” “The White Lotus,” “Euphoria,” “True Detective: Night Country” and “The Sympathizer.” Reality shows include “90 Day Fiancé,” “Cake Boss,” “Gold Rush” and “Naked and Afraid.”

Max is also the only platform in Europe live-streaming the upcoming Paris Olympics.

“Today is a significant milestone in the globalization of Max,” JB Perrette, CEO and president of global streaming and games at Warner Bros. Discovery, said in a statement.

WBD brands in Europe include HBO, Discovery, Warner Bros. Pictures, DC, Eurosport and TLC.

“With launches in over half the global markets still ahead of us, this is just the beginning of the next chapter [for Max],” Perrette said.

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Sony Pictures Entertainment Launching Branded FAST Channels Across Europe

Sony Pictures Entertainment is launching “Sony One,” a portfolio of 54 free, ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channels on LG Channels, Samsung TV Plus and TiVo+ across Europe, beginning in April.

Sony, which has no branded English-language streaming presence in the United States, is set to become one of the largest portfolios of FAST channels in the world. Sony One’s channels will be curated and programmed for local markets in different territories, with content being broadcast primarily in each region’s native language. Territories at launch include the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland.

“Our entry into the FAST space in Europe reflects our dedication to making premium content accessible to audiences on new and important distribution channels,” Pete Wood, SVP of digital sales and distribution for SPE, said in a statement.

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The channels include:

  • Sony One Comedy TV, with comedy series including “Seinfeld,” “The Nanny” and “The Goldbergs”;
  • Sony One Thriller TV, with series such as “Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul” and “Justified” and a focus on crime procedurals and adventures;
  • Sony One Faves, featuring such titles as “Bewitched,” “Community” and “Dawson’s Creek” that evoke nostalgia across generations;
  • Sony One Comedy Hits, featuring such titles as Step Brothers, Jerry Maguire and Easy A;
  • Sony One Action Hits, with such titles as District 9 and the Men in Black and Zombieland franchises;
  • Sony One Shark Tank, featuring episodes of the reality show in which aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to moguls;
  • Sony One Dragons’ Den, featuring the juggernaut reality format behind “Shark Tank,” in which aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to multimillionaire investors, in the hope of landing investment funds; and
  • Sony One Blacklist, featuring the crime thriller series following a most-wanted fugitive who works with a rookie FBI profiler to take down criminals and terrorists.

 

In addition to Sony One, SPE’s FAST offerings include Sony KAL Hindi, its Hindi destination in the United States and Canada; its portfolio of Spanish-language FAST channels for the U.S. Hispanic audience; and FAST channels in Mexico and Brazil.

Paramount+ Announces Dates, Pricing for International Streaming Launches

Paramount+ March 19 announced launch dates and pricing for its international ad-supported and premium-tier subscription VOD service.

The “Basic (with ads)” plan will roll out in April in Canada and in June in Australia, priced at $6.99 CAD and AUD per month, or $61.99 CAD and AUD per year. The “Premium” plan will roll out in Europe, beginning with France this month and priced at €10.99 per month (or €97.99 per year).

 
By introducing the ‘Basic (with ads)’ plan in Canada and Australia, we will enhance our value to our partners, by enabling advertisers to buy across our global franchises, series and films in a comprehensive and impactful way,” Lee Sears, president of international markets advertising sales, said in a statement.

Warner Bros. Discovery Initiates First European HBO Max Subscription Price Hike

Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max subscription streaming platform has initiated price hikes for the first time across select European markets where the service retains the moniker “HBO Max” until 2024.

Price hikes include an additional monthly euro fee to €9.99 ($10.85) in Spain, and €7.99 ($8.67) in Portugal. Across the Nordics, the monthly fee is increasing to 99 NOK ($9.38) in Norway; 99 SEK ($9.29) in Sweden; 89 DKK ($12.97) in Denmark; and €9.99 ($10.85) in Finland. Bulgaria is increasing to €6.99 ($7.59).

By comparison, Netflix charges €12.99 ($14.10) monthly for a standard subscription in Spain, and €7.99 ($8.67) for the basic option.

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HBO Max is currently available in about 61 countries, with a Latin American launch slated for the end of the year, in addition to most of Western Europe and South Asia in 2024.

CNN Launches FAST Streaming Channel in Europe

CNN’s foray into subscription streaming may have been short-lived, but Warner Bros. Discovery’s flagship news unit hasn’t thrown in the towel on streaming video.

The brand May 23 launched CNN Fast, a new free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channel that offers audiences to watch a range of quick-paced, internationally focused CNN content.

The platform features a curated channel of short-form videos that will feature international stories across major news events, business, entertainment, sport and the environment. Launching today across several European countries on Rakuten TV, it will also be available on LG Channels from May 24, followed by Samsung TV Plus in June. The channel’s mix of news and lifestyle content complements the existing ways that people can consume CNN content via digital, linear, audio and social media platforms.

“CNN FAST offers a new and different user experience to the main CNN broadcast channel,” Humphrey Black, head of distribution strategy at CNN International Commercial, said in a statement. “By working with established CTV platform partners, where we have already seen considerable success for CNN content, we’re now able to connect with more viewers and households via the devices and formats that they already enjoy.”

CNN FAST is available in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. It will be available in more countries and platforms in the coming year. This builds off the current FAST offerings in the United States, available on Samsung TV Plus and Pluto TV.

“This is a great opportunity to showcase highlights of some of the best CNN content to a broader audience, offering different genres of stories presented in a fast-paced, short-form style that will appeal to a younger and wider demographic,” said Meara Erdozain, SVP of programming at CNN International.

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Warner Bros. Discovery Ups Rebecca Rørmark to New Head of Streaming Marketing Position

Rebecca Rørmark

Warner Bros. Discovery has promoted longtime marketing executive Rebecca Rørmark to the newly created position Head of Streaming Marketing for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.

Based in Oslo, Norway, Rørmark reports to Patrizio Spagnoletto, global chief marketing officer for direct-to-consumer.

Rørmark is tasked with marketing the upcoming merger and launch of the HBO Max and Discovery+ streaming platforms. The combined SVOD platform is slated to launch in the U.S. and South America this year, followed by Europe in 2024.

Rørmark joined Discovery Networks Norway in 2013, becoming VP of marketing and PR following the merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery in 2021.

Lionsgate+ Expands European SVOD Access Through Samsung Smart-TV Deal

Six years after the Starz premium channel became available on Samsung smart-televisions in Europe, Starz Jan. 31 is making the newly rebranded Lionsgate+ (formerly Starzplay) streaming platform available on Samsung’s Tizen-powered OS platform TVs in select European countries.

Lionsgate acquired Starz in 2016 for $4.4 billion.

Samsung TV owners will be able to subscribe to Lionsgate+ directly on their screens, unlocking access to programs including “Gaslit,” “Power,” “The Great,” “Outlander,” “The Serpent Queen,” “Party Down” and Spanish-language “Senorita 89,” among others.

“We are continuing to build on Lionsgate+’s presence across Latin America, the U.K. and Ireland and offer consumers a range of touch points in market,” Darren Nielson, EVP of international networks for Starz, said in a statement. “Samsung’s global reach and premium devices make them an ideal partner for us as we grow in these regions.”

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Comcast/Paramount Streaming Service SkyShowtime Gets Exclusive Access to 21 HBO Max European Originals

Content sales at Warner Bros. Discovery continue.

The media giant has licensed exclusive access to 21 HBO Max original series to SkyShowtime, the upstart European streaming platform from Comcast and Paramount Global. In total, the deal provides SkyShowtime 168 episodes of new and previously aired original programming.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

The deal — which includes three new series that have completed production and will have their world premiere on SkyShowtime this year — significantly accelerates the company’s entry into original programming. The new shows, which will be branded as SkyShowtime Originals, include “ID” (Finland and Sweden), “The Winner” (Czechia and Slovakia), and “Warszawianka” (Poland). Additionally, SkyShowtime will also premiere the first and second seasons of “Por H o Por B” (Spain). Premiere dates for these shows will be announced at a later date.

Other popular shows acquired in the deal include several series that recently premiered on HBO Max but will now have their exclusive home on SkyShowtime. They are “Beartown” (Sweden), ” Beforeigners” (Norway), “Kamikaze” (Denmark), “Lust” (Sweden) and “The Informant” (Hungary). SkyShowtime will have the option to acquire worldwide rights on any renewed shows as well as the option to order new seasons for several shows.

As well as the nine new and current shows, multiple seasons of 12 successful series from HBO Max will be available exclusively on SkyShowtime beginning in March. The include: “Czech It Out!” (Czechia), “Foodie Love” (Spain), “Hackerville” (Romania), “No Activity” (Spain), “One True Singer” (Romania), “Pray, Obey,” “Kill” (Sweden), “Ruxx” (Romania), “Success” (Croatia), “Todo Lo Otro” (Spain), “The Sleepers” (Czechia), “Tuff Money” (Romania) and “Welcome to Utmark” (Norway).

Warner Bros. Discovery is in the process of reaching more than $3.5 billion in cost synergies following last year’s merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery. Cost-cutting has included canceling series, movie productions and licensing content to third parties.

All of the acquired shows will be available to SkyShowtime subscribers across all of its 22 markets.

“This is a landmark deal for SkyShowtime, giving us an immediate foothold in the original programming space well ahead of plan,” SkyShowtime CEO Monty Sarhan said in a statement.

SkyShowtime, which received regulatory approval in February 2022, continues to build out its programming team across all of its markets. In addition to the shows acquired under this deal, SkyShowtime is ramping up its own original programming capabilities.

Created for Europe, SkyShowtime has teams across six regional offices. Its apps and content will be available in 18 different languages across its 22 markets.

Already live in 12 markets, SkyShowtime first launched in September in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, followed by launches in the Netherlands and Portugal in November. In December, the streaming service launched in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. SkyShowtime will launch in its remaining markets of Albania, Andorra, Czechia, Hungary, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Spain in the first quarter.

In addition to local programming, SkyShowtime features exclusive television first run theatrical films from Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, DreamWorks Animation, Paramount+, Showtime, Sky Studios and Peacock.

Paramount+, Showtime Continue European Rollouts

The Paramount+ subscription streaming service is set to launch in France on Dec. 1, and in Austria, Germany and Switzerland on Dec. 8. Paramount’s Showtime brand is also continuing its Euro reach in a partnership with Comcast-owned satellite TV operator Sky, doing business as SkyShowtime.

Paramount+ has launched in South Korea, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Italy, with a goal of reaching 45 countries by the end of the year.

Heavily marketed original content includes Sylvester Stallone’s mafia drama “Tulsa King,Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” and Taylor Sheridan’s “Yellowstone” prequel series “1923.”

Paramount+ will be available to stream on Roku, Apple TV, Google, Samsung and Amazon connected devices, in addition to Sky platforms in Germany and Austria, and Canal+ in France and French-speaking regions of Switzerland.

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“Paramount+ is rapidly expanding its presence globally, bringing audience a unique content offering with the biggest stars and most compelling global and local stories,” Marco Nobili, EVP and international GM of Paramount+, said in a statement at the Mipcom Cannes confab in France. “With these launches, Paramount+ will continue to see major growth across Europe, becoming one of the top players worldwide.”

Amazon Raising Prime Membership Fee Up to 43% in Europe; Taking Delivery of 100,000 Electric Vehicles by 2030

Amazon July 26 announced it will up the annual price of its Prime membership program as much as 43% across parts of Europe as the costs associated with e-commerce — i.e. shipping — continue to escalate. The price hikes also affect the Prime Video streaming service and other Prime features included with the membership.

The annual membership fee will increase in the U.K. 20% to £95 ($113.80) from £79 ($94.60) on Sept. 15. In France, Prime members will see the annual fee jump 43% to €69.90 ($70.80) from €49 ($49.64). Spain and Italy will see 39% price hikes, while Germany gets a 30% annual fee hike. The price increases follow a 15% increase in the U.S. announced in February.

Amazon has also significantly upped entertainment and live sports spending. In addition to closing its $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM Studios, the streamer is paying the NFL $11 billion for 11 years of exclusive rights to “Thursday Night Football” beginning this season.

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Prime Video this month for the first time secured rights to live stream European Champions League soccer matches in the U.K.

Separately, Amazon last week announced it would take delivery of 100,000 Rivian electric vehicles by 2030 for use delivering Amazon packages in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Nashville, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle and St. Louis, among other cities. This rollout is just the beginning of what is expected to be thousands of Amazon’s custom electric delivery vehicles in more than 100 cities by the end of this year.

Amazon, which owns a stake in Illinois-based Rivian, took a $7.6 billion loss on that stake in the first quarter, ended March 31.

Amazon is currently the largest single global customer of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van used to deliver e-commerce purchases locally nationwide.

Amazon reports second-quarter (ended June 30) financial results on July 28.