HBO Max, when it arrived two weeks ago as an amped-up app to stream HBO with a lot of extra programming, also brought confusion about how the new streaming service fits in with the company’s two existing streaming apps.
In a move intended to simplify matters, AT&T‘s WarnerMedia, HBO’s parent company, said Friday that it’ll retire its HBO Go app as of July 31 now that the HBO Max app is “widely distributed.” It’ll rename its HBO Now app to be simply called HBO.
HBO Go is the network’s first streaming app that lets regular HBO subscribers watch over the internet. HBO Now is the channel’s stand-alone streaming app that let people subscribe to and stream HBO without any other pay-TV bundles.
When the changes are complete, the company will have two streaming apps — HBO Max and HBO — rather than three.
But getting rid of HBO Go raises questions for people who rely on that app. The company’s plan to sunset HBO Go is based on the premise that HBO Max is “widely distributed” as a replacement for it, but HBO Max is missing on crucial devices: Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV. Roku or Amazon Fire TV together represent an eye-popping 70% of the streaming devices in the US.
WarnerMedia has so far failed to secure deals with Roku and Amazon to support HBO Max, preventing the HBO Max app from streaming to those companies’ popular devices. Anyone who currently uses HBO Go on a Roku or Fire TV to stream HBO programming to their TVs may be left in the lurch if the HBO Go app is removed from those platforms.
WarnerMedia didn’t immediately respond to a message asking what happens to HBO Go users on those devices.
Neither Roku nor Amazon immediately responded to messages seeking comment.
In a statement announcing the changes Friday, WarnerMedia said it intends to remove the HBO Go app from “primary platforms” as of July 31. The HBO Now change appears to be simpler: The HBO Now app and desktop experience will just be renamed to HBO.
HBO Max is one of the final entrants in the so-called streaming wars, a seven-month window when media giants and tech titans have been releasing a raft of new streaming services to take on Netflix. These competitive battles — pitting rookies like HBO Max, Disney Plus and NBCUniversal’s Peacock against heavyweights like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video — have spurred huge corporations to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the hope of shaping the future of television.