Eschewing a primary branding asset acquired in its $49 billion purchase of DirecTV three years ago, AT&T will name its highly anticipated streaming platform HBO Max.
The telecom also said that it will pay a $425 million pocket-to-pocket bill to make HBO Max the exclusive home of still-popular sitcom Friends.”
“HBO Max will bring together the diverse riches of WarnerMedia to create programming and user experiences not seen before in a streaming platform,” said Bob Greenblatt, chairman of AT&T’s WarnerMedia Entertainment division, in a statement.
WarnerMedia’s HBO Go SVOD platform has been around for five years and has around 8 million subscribers. It is widely expected that HBO Max will cost slightly more than the $14.99 a month charged by the legacy direct-to-consumer platform.
AT&T will launch the new platform next spring, where it will compete head-to-head with new OTT platforms from Disney, Apple and Comcast/NBCUniversal.
As for Friends, its 236 reruns amounted to the second most popular show last year on Netflix, which paid WarnerMedia around $80 million to keep streaming the show through this year.
The decision to reclaim Friends under the WarnerMedia umbrella is hardly surprising, with traditional media conglomerates launching their new platforms mainly to compete with Netflix.
NBCUniversal, for example, recently announced that it would pull back another popular Netflix rerun, The Office, starting at the end of this year.