“It’s not alway best to be first” is the verdict of HBO Max Global Boss Johannes Larcher as he talked up international strategy at a Mip TV keynote this afternoon.
Speaking to the territories in which HBO Max will be launching after competitors including Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and Paramount+, the former Hulu exec said his team can “learn a lot from the actions others have taken both successfully and less successfully in the past.”
“We are doing this in a phased manner and are being capital efficient,” he added.
His comments were in contrast to Paramount International boss Raffaele Annecchino, who used his Series Mania keynote to praise Paramount+’s quick launches in key European territories.
Larcher rejected the notion that HBO Max is in direct competition with the other streamers, stating: “It’s not about being number one but about creating a service that best serves our customers. There is room in these territories for multiple scaled businesses.”
HBO Max has been busy launching in European territories this year and will quadruple its originals from 10 in 2019 to 40 by 2023 as it seeks more non U.S. subs.
Around 90% of HBO Max growth is now forecast to come outside the U.S., said Larcher, as he pointed to competitors such as Netflix’s forecasted $9BN international spend by 2026, which could buy 700 episodes of The Crown or five Spider Man movies.
Rather than “parachuting the U.S. HBO Max into different countries,” Larcher’s team is tailoring to different territory’s viewing and buying habits.
HBO Max has introduced a mobile-only tier in Latin America and is experimenting with a “basic tier” in the Netherlands, a country in which it didn’t previously have a presence.
Turning to the forthcoming WarnerMedia merger with Discovery and the impact this will have on streamers HBO Max and Discovery+, Larcher said “audiences and content are quite complementary.”
“We have a shared vision of what a [combined streaming] service should be in terms of product and packaging,” he explained.
One Way or Another
He was speaking as HBO Max announced the recommission of Spanish comedy One Way or Another, which will begin principal photography in Spain in the Spring.
The show follows Saida Benzal and Marta Martín, who live in Malasaña, a crazy town in which they have found their place.
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