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HBO Max’s Global Expansion Faces Intense Competition and Tangled Rights

To catch up with Netflix and Disney+, it will need to make a big decision about a European pay-TV giant.

HBO Max Sees 90,000 Mobile Downloads On Day One, Trailing Rivals
Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg

From his home in the English port city of Sunderland, John Campbell reads everything he can about HBO Max. When theaters across the U.K. shut down because of the pandemic, Campbell got excited about potentially being able to see new movies on the streaming service.

But like everyone else in the U.K., Campbell will have to wait for his chance to sign up, possibly for several years. HBO Max may not arrive in some of Europe’s largest markets, including the U.K., Germany and Italy, until 2025, when an exclusive deal between HBO and the European pay-TV provider Sky expires.