HBO Max officially launched to the public last week, with new applications for iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. The Verge now reports that HBO Max will be excused from AT&T’s mobile data limits. This means you can stream HBO Max through your AT&T mobile data, without it counting toward your data cap.
The report from The Verge explains that this is all taking place through AT&T’s “sponsored data” program. For example, Hulu or Netflix could theoretically pay AT&T to have its video traffic excused from data caps. Since AT&T owns HBO Max, however, everything zeroes out completely:
According to an AT&T executive familiar with the matter, HBO Max is using AT&T’s ‘sponsored data’ system, which technically allows any company to pay to excuse its services from data caps. But since AT&T owns HBO Max, it’s just paying itself: The data fee shows up on the HBO Max books as an expense and on the AT&T Mobility books as revenue. For AT&T as a whole, it zeroes out. Compare that to a competitor like Netflix, which could theoretically pay AT&T for sponsored data, but it would be a pure cost.
For AT&T and HBO Max fanatics, this is good news on the surface, but the Verge is quick to point out that AT&T is only free to “give itself preferential treatment” because “there’s no net neutrality in the United States anymore.” In fact, no other streaming services appear to be using AT&T’s sponsored data program except those owned by the company.
“The network is the plumbing, and the content is the water. And you’re seeing water and the plumbing kind of coming together,” Tony Goncalves, AT&T’s boss of HBO Max, said in an interview on the Vergecast.
HBO Max has faced quite a bit of criticism since its launch. HBO has completely backed out of Apple TV Channels, while HBO Max is also not available through Roku or Fire TV. Furthermore, HBO Max content is not available in 4K.
Are you an HBO Max subscriber? If so, what do you think of it? Let us know down in the comments!