Harry Potter' Bolts HBO Max for Peacock
By Joe Flint and David Marcelis
It might take a wizard to figure out where to stream the "Harry
AT&T Inc.'s HBO Max is losing the Harry Potter franchise on
Aug. 25, less than three months after the streaming service's
launch. The movies will become available on Comcast Corp.'s rival
streaming service Peacock starting in October, the result of an
unusual compromise between the two companies.
All eight "Harry Potter" movies were produced and distributed by
Warner Bros.' studio, which like HBO Max is part of AT&T's
WarnerMedia. But the television rights are held by Comcast's
NBCUniversal, which secured them a time when neither AT&T nor
Comcast had a streaming service in the works.
The franchise's short stay on HBO Max is rare in an industry
where programming deals typically run several years. The only
reason HBO Max got to offer Harry Potter when it launched is that
NBCUniversal agreed to let it have it for a few months while its
Peacock streaming service wasn't yet available nationwide. Peacock
launched on July 15.
NBCUniversal has had the commercial television rights for the
"Harry Potter" movies since 2018, as part of a seven-year deal with
Warner Bros. valued at as much as $250 million. The deal, which was
reached in 2016, also included digital rights, but didn't foresee
the existence of either Peacock or HBO Max.
That NBCUniversal holds the rights to such a big franchise owned
by a rival harks back to the pre-streaming wars era of
entertainment. Now companies such as NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia
primarily seek to make and keep content on their own platforms
instead of selling it to the highest bidder, as was the case in the
2016 "Harry Potter" deal.
Earlier this year, WarnerMedia's senior leadership -- including
new Chief Executive Jason Kilar -- reached out to NBCUniversal
Chief Executive Jeff Shell and negotiated a small window for the
"Harry Potter" movies to be shown on HBO Max from its May launch to
In return, Warner Bros. has agreed to a short extension of
NBCUniversal's deal for the movies, people familiar with the matter
The back-and-forth of the "Harry Potter" movies is a testament
to both their popularity and the willingness of two rival companies
that each may have been able to lay claim to the films' streaming
rights to opt for a compromise over a legal fight.
The deal is a win-win, said Frances Manfredi, Peacock's
president of content acquisition and strategy. "We need to be able
to create a level of robust offerings for our viewers and the only
way to get there is to aggregate across studios," she said.
A representative for HBO Max declined to comment.
The Harry Potter movies will stream on Peacock for six months
starting in October. The movies will then again be available on
NBCU's cable channels including USA and Syfy. The movies are
expected to resurface on Peacock eventually as well.
The companies could negotiate an eventual return to HBO Max for
the "Harry Potter" movies, the people familiar with the matter
said, though there is no agreement in place to do so.
Write to Joe Flint at firstname.lastname@example.org and David Marcelis at
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 05, 2020 12:14 ET (16:14 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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