Max’s European Rollout Scheduled to Begin May 21, Ahead of 2024 Paris Olympics

Max is coming to Europe in exactly two months.

Warner Bros. Discovery March 21 announced that its flagship streaming service will launch in the first European countries May 21, a year after its U.S. debut, with more countries to be added before the Olympic Games in Paris start July 26.

The initial rollout will be across central and eastern Europe, as well as in Iberia and the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Launches will follow in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Poland.

By the time the Olympics start, Max will be available in 25 European countries. That will boost the platform’s presence to 65 countries and territories worldwide. 

The HBO Max-Discovery mashup is banking on heavy Euro-appeal thanks to the inclusion of content from Eurosport, a French group of pay television networks in Europe and parts of Asia owned by WBD through its international sports unit. WBD says Max will be the only service in Europe to stream Olympic Games Paris 2024, with the competitions included in all subscription plans.

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“Max … builds on our long heritage in Europe, bringing together an incredible breadth and depth of culture-defining entertainment from our services and networks, all in one place,” JB Perrette, CEO and president of global streaming and games at Warner Bros. Discovery, said in announcing the Max rollout at the Series Mania TV festival  in Lille, Hauts-de-France. “The unrivaled content we’ve got on Max from ‘House of the Dragon’ to Olympic Games Paris 2024 and beyond means whatever your mood or the occasion, Max has something great for everyone, every time.”
The launch of Max in Europe comes less than one month before the return of the hot HBO Original series “House of the Dragon,” which is scheduled to bow on Max in Europe June 17.

A sports add-on will allow European subscribers to watch major international and European sports, including the four tennis Grand Slams (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open); cycling’s three Grand Tours (Giro d’Italia, La Vuelta a España, and the Tour de France) in addition to the Tour de France Femmes; the popular car race 24 Hours of Le Mans; and every major winter sports World Championship and World Cup events.

A selection of flagship live linear networks will also be available on Max in some countries in select plans, including CNN International in France and Poland, TVN in Poland, TV Norge in Norway, and Kanal 5 in Sweden — as well as Eurosport, in all countries.

A number of different plans will be available to European subscribers, including a basic plan that will include advertising and be offered at a lower price. The basic plan will initially be available in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Romania, Poland, France and Belgium and allow users to stream content, in full HD resolution, on two devices simultaneously.

A higher-priced standard plan will also allow up to 30 downloads of available content to watch offline. A premium plan will let viewers stream content in full HD or 4K resolution on up to four devices simultaneously with Dolby Atmos sound. The premium plan allows up to 100 downloads of content for offline viewing. 

Existing HBO Max subscribers will be able to keep their current profiles and viewing history. In some cases, the HBO Max app will be automatically updated to the Max app. In other cases, when users open their HBO Max app, they will be prompted to download the new Max app.

Netflix and IOC to Bow Sports Doc ‘The Redeem Team’ Oct. 7

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Netflix have collaborated for a celebratory look at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball victory with the documentary The Redeem Team.

The documentary debuts globally on Netflix Oct. 7.

Using unprecedented Olympic footage and behind-the-scenes material, The Redeem Team tells the story of the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team’s quest for gold at the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 following the previous team’s shocking performance four years earlier in Athens that brought only a bronze medal for third place. The documentary offers a portrait of team building and features interviews with athletes and coaches from Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski, who reflect on how the team set a new standard for American basketball.

The Redeem Team is an Olympic Channel, Kennedy/Marshall Company and Mandalay Sports Media production in association with 59th and Prairie Entertainment, UNINTERRUPTED, NBA Entertainment and USA Basketball.

This is Netflix’s first collaboration with the Olympic Channel, which is the media studio owned and operated by the IOC, and also marks the Olympic Channel’s first time producing a film exclusively for a global streaming service.

“The IOC has opened up their never-before-seen archives for this documentary, including basketball footage from the past 70 years of Olympic history,” according to a Netflix release.

The film is directed by Jon Weinbach, a producer, filmmaker, and writer who is also the president of Skydance Sports, a division of Skydance Media. He was formerly the executive producer and EVP of Mandalay Sports Media, a content venture founded in 2012 by Peter Guber and Mike Tollin. His portfolio at MSM included producing The Last Dance, executive producing The Comedy Store, and executive producing nine documentary films for the International Olympic Committee’s OTT platform, the Olympic Channel. Prior to joining Mandalay, he produced and wrote Producers Guild of America Award-nominated The Other Dream Team, and was also a staff reporter at The Wall Street Journal.

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The Redeem Team represents the very best of what the Olympics are all about,” Mark Parkman, GM of Olympic Channel Services, said in a statement. “This film will bring viewers directly inside that team and the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 by showcasing the personality and dynamics of a special group of superstars who came together as one to reclaim basketball supremacy on the biggest stage in sports.”

“In 2008, I played with heroes of mine, all stars, friends and future teammates,” said executive producer Dwyane Wade in a statement. “Outside of winning and showing the world that we were still the most dominant, our other big challenge was changing the perception of what everyone thought about the NBA and USA Basketball. I’m excited for everyone to get an opportunity to go behind the scenes and see all the work that went into this iconic team — The Redeem Team.”

Premiere Digital, Windfall Films to Launch ‘The Wall — Climb for Gold’ Doc on Jan. 18

Premiere Digital and Windfall Films on Dec. 15 announced the Jan. 18 launch of The Wall — Climb for Gold, a feature-length documentary that follows four elite female climbers on their quest to make the Tokyo Olympics.

The 90-minute film will be available globally for digital rental and purchase through Apple TV, Google Play and Amazon Prime Video, depending on a viewer’s country.

In the United States, the documentary will also be available for transactional video-on-demand (TVOD) viewing on Redbox On Demand, Vudu and DirecTV. Other platforms are expected to join in before the film’s release. Later in the year, The Wall will be  accessible on global streaming platforms.

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The Wall — Climb for Gold follows the four climbers over a two-year period as they battle to make it through the qualifying events to get to Tokyo for the first-ever Olympic climbing competition. Their original plans fall apart as the COVID-19 pandemic results in the Olympics being postponed for a year. 

The four climbers profiled in the documentary are Brooke Raboutou (USA), Janja Garnbret (Slovenia), Miho Nonaka (Japan), and Shauna Coxsey MBE (Great Britain).

Garnbret, 22, was a child phenomenon and holds the most world titles in the sport. The overwhelming favorite for the Olympic title, she is under extraordinary pressure to deliver when it matters most.

Raboutou, 20, is one of the youngest competitors at the Games and must balance training and being a student at the University of California, San Diego. Raboutou’s mother and father are both legends of the sport, winning numerous World Cup titles in the 1990s.

Nonaka, 24, the 2018 Bouldering World Cup champion, is a Tokyo native and must overcome the pressure of representing her country in her home city. 

Coxsey, 28, is one of the most successful British climbers in history, with Bouldering World Cup titles in 2016 and 2017. Coxsey has fought to overcome serious injury and seeks to continue her success with a record-shattering performance at the Olympics. 

The film was directed by Nick Hardie (Formula 1: Drive to Survive), features a score by multi-award-winning composer Nainita Desai (The Reason I Jump, For Sama) and is edited by Emily West. 

The Wall — Climb for Gold was created by Windfall Adventures Ltd., a subsidiary of Windfall Films, part of the Argonon Group. Windfall was supported by Adidas in the making of the film, but it retained complete independence and editorial control throughout. Premiere Digital is handling the global distribution.

Netflix Sponsors NBC’s Tokyo Olympics Medals Count

With Team USA atop of the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics in total medals at the halfway point, Netflix, a perennial leader on most things subscription streaming video, took a marketing stand.

The streamer was a presenting sponsor on NBC’s Aug. 1 primetime TV broadcast of the medals count of the XXXII Olympiad with the U.S. leading with 61 medals, including 21 gold. The leading tally increased to 64 medals, including 22 gold, through Aug. 2.

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Netflix took the opportunity to market the Aug. 6 release of Vivo, an animated movie featuring songs from Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Tony, Grammy, and Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of Hamilton and In the Heights. Vivo follows kinkajou (a.k.a. a rainforest “honey bear,” voiced by Miranda), who spends his days playing music to the crowds in a lively square with his beloved owner Andrés (Buena Vista Social Club’s Juan de Marcos).

The movie, originally slated for theatrical launch in June, is part of a marketing/production agreement between Netflix and Sony Pictures Animation — the latter responsible for Oscar winner Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and this year’s The Mitchells vs. The Machines currently streaming on Netflix.

The partnership precludes Netflix’s recently announced deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) for exclusive first-pay-window licensing in the U.S. for theatrically released Sony feature films, beginning with the studio’s 2022 film slate.

Peacock Bows Olympics Channel

In anticipation of the Tokyo Olympics beginning on July 23, 2021, the Peacock streaming service has created the 24-hour channel Road to Tokyo, dedicated to Olympic and Paralympic classic moments, documentaries and studio programming.

NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service, launched July 15, offers an ad-supported free tier and an ad-supported premium tier for $4.99/month, serving no more than five minutes of advertising per hour. An ad-free version of the premium tier is also available for $9.99/month.

Road to Tokyo will feature a collection of on demand content that includes 10 documentaries produced by NBC Olympics, highlighted by Peacock originals In Deep With Ryan Lochte and Kamome. Additionally, “Olympic Classics” revisits the most inspirational events of recent games, including Simone Biles’ gold-medal winning performance at the Rio 2016 Olympics, gold medal victories from Team USA in men’s basketball by the “Dream Team” at Barcelona in 1992, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant at Beijing 2008, and Carli Lloyd’s two-goal performance to propel women’s soccer to a gold medal at London 2012.

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The channel will also feature three exclusive new specials to prepare fans for the upcoming games. Dreams Live On: Countdown to Tokyo examines the journey of star athletes, such as Simone Biles and Allyson Felix, preparing for next year’s Tokyo Olympics. Lighting the Olympic Flame: Iconic Ceremony Moments looks back at past opening ceremonies with interviews with participants such as Michael Phelps and composer John Williams. The Olympics & Paralympics: Inspirational Moments presents moments of courage and sportsmanship from recent past Olympics.

Oscar De La Hoya‘s Golden Boy Promotions Inks Live-Boxing Streaming Deal with Facebook

Olympic Gold medalist Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions has signed a partnership with Facebook to bring ad-supported live boxing to the social media giant’s Watch streaming platform.

The first of five live fights on Facebook Watch begin Aug. 11 featuring Jesus Rojas (26-1-2, 19 KOs) defending his WBA World Featherweight title against Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. (26-1, 14 KOs) at the Avalon Theatre in Los Angeles.

Watch is available for free on mobile apps across Apple and Android, on desktop, laptop and smart TV apps.

Launched last August, Watch is projected to generate $565 million in revenue this year, including $200 million on original content spending, according to Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak. The average Facebook user spends 50 minutes daily on the social media platform.

The platform earlier this year inked content deals with Fox News, CNN and Major League Baseball – the latter involving exclusive access to 25 afternoon games.

“This is a game-changing deal for the sport of boxing,” De la Hoya said in a statement. “The reach of Facebook is just incredible, and our sponsorship conversations will truly resonate with brands across all categories.”

The 1992 Gold medalist and world champion in six weight divisions, De la Hoya will be the executive producer on each fight, with Facebook incorporating real-time viewer interaction through its social media platform.

“Through this unique partnership, a global community of sports fans will have access to some of boxing’s most exciting live bouts and be able to interact with the action like never before,” said Devi Mahadevia, North America live sports programming lead at Facebook.


NBC Airing First-Ever Live Winter Olympics Virtual Reality Coverage

NBC Jan. 8 announced it would provide more than 50 hours of live virtual reality coverage during the XXIII Olympic Winter Games from PyeongChang, South Korea.

Virtual Reality immerses the viewer into an environment, whether real or imagined, creating either a lifelike experience at a place in the real world or putting a viewer into simulated environments such as in a VR game.

The VR coverage will be available to authenticated users with Windows Mixed Reality headsets, Samsung Gear VR, and both Google Cardboard and Google Daydream, with compatible iOS or Android devices via the NBC Sports VR app.

It marks the first time that VR will be available for a Winter Olympics and that VR programming will be live in the U.S on a wide range of devices and platforms.

“The Olympics have long been an opportunity to showcase emerging media technology,” Gary Zenkel, president, NBC Olympics, said in a statement.

VR programming will include the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, alpine skiing, curling, snowboarding, skeleton, figure skating, short track, ski jumping, ice hockey, and big air, among other events.

NBC Olympics will offer VR replays of all events previously livestreamed; one daily 360-degree video of a sport not available in VR the previous day; and packaged highlights from the day before.

“We are enabling a truly immersive experience, where fans get closer to the action than ever before allowing them feel like they are sitting in the stands for a front and center view of history being made,” said James Carwana, VP and GM of Intel Sports Group, which is working with NBC on VR coverage. 

Viewers will be able to customize their experience by switching between multiple vantage points, hear natural sound captured at each camera location to provide a truly immersive experience, and enjoy real-time stats, leaderboards and post-event results.

Viewers will also be able to “fly” through the Olympic world, tour Olympic venues and different areas throughout Korea.

NBC Olympics will also provide content prior to the start of the Games, with behind-the-scenes content captured with Intel True VR technology. VR users will be able to experience a winter sports athlete prepare for the Games; witness the culture, sights and beauty of Korea; and explore the PyeongChang Olympic venues.

Programming will span every day of the Games – with the exception of Feb. 18 – beginning the day of the Opening Ceremony on Friday, Feb. 9, and concluding with the Closing Ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 25.

NBC Olympics’ first foray into VR was for the Rio Olympics in 2016. Most programming was presented on next-day delay.