Over the last few years, the relationships between streaming services and the various companies responsible for ferrying their content to people’s actual televisions have become about as fractious and bitter as the cable wars ever were; we’ve seen god knows how many arguments break out of late between providers like HBO Max or Peacock and companies like Roku, whose ostensibly symbiotic arrangements frequently break down into screaming arguments about who deserves a cut of what. All of those negotiations only get more complicated when you factor in Amazon (who’s in a similar, very big boat with Apple), which is both a high-profile vendor of its own content, and—through both its Fire TV hardware, and its Channels feature on Amazon Prime—a platform that its competitors inevitably have to deal with.
Or not, in the case of HBO, which has announced a bold pricing move in the aftermath of its decision to pull HBO Max from Prime’s Channels library. (It’ll still be available through the Fire side of things, meanwhile, because it’s pretty damn hard to avoid every tentacle of the leviathan.) Users who were previously accessing HBO Max through their Amazon Prime Channels (which allows users easy subscriptions to various premium content libraries) will be able to purchase up to six months of a full subscription at a half-price of $7.49—which, given that Max is way out on the high end of streaming service pricing tiers, is a pretty considerable drop.
Why leave Channels in the first place, though, considering that Deadline reports the WarnerMedia service is expected to drop 5 million subscribers as part of the move? It all comes down to data, the digital macguffin of the modern world. When Time-Warner (back in the heady days before it merged with AT&T to go from “hideously large media company” to “festering content mass” level market saturation) originally cut its deals to try to push its valuable library of HBO content onto the already ubiquitous Amazon Prime, it had to be pretty lenient about how much of that customer data Amazon was allowed to suck up through its corporate proboscis. But what was acceptable, streaming-business-wise, in the mid-2010s is pretty out-dated now, and so Warner decided to take the hit and cut off a portion of its subscriber base by pulling Max from Channels.
All of which translates for you, the consumer, as: You might be able to get HBO Max cheaper for a while, in exchange for it being slightly more of a pain in the ass to access. And if that ain’t the modern condition, what is?