HBO Max gears up for launch in 15 more countries

The streaming service will debut in Portugal and across eastern Europe.

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HBO Max enters next phase of its European rollout.

Angela Lang/CNET

And just like that, HBO Max is expanding its global reach. The streamer plans to scale up in Europe next month, owner WarnerMedia said Tuesday, launching in 15 additional countries and territories there on March 8. 

This will make HBO Max, which is already operating in the US, Latin America and other parts of Europe like Spain and Sweden, available in 61 countries total. The service plans to widen to six other countries later this year, including Greece and Turkey. 

A licensing agreement with Sky TV currently prevents HBO Max from launching in the UK, Germany, France and Italy, four of Europe's biggest markets. Sky TV has exclusive rights to some HBO and Warner Bros. content, and the distribution deal doesn't expire until 2025. 

The global expansion is central to HBO Max's race against rivals like Netflix, Disney Plus and other services to dominate television's streaming future. With worldwide prestige in its HBO brand and millions of dollars invested in original programming, HBO Max hopes it can emerge as one of the rare must-have services across wide swaths of the world. HBO Max and HBO's traditional networks ended 2021 with 73.8 million global subscribers between them. Netflix, by comparison, had 222 million, and Disney Plus notched 118 million as of early October.

Beginning March 8, the service will launch in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Previously in Europe, HBO Max rolled out in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Spain and Andorra back in October. 

HBO Max will be regularly priced at 5.99 euros ($6.73) per month, but to mark the service's launch, new and existing HBO subscribers in 14 countries can sign up for a reduced rate of 3.99 euros a month. The company will announce additional details about monthly and annual pricing closer to HBO Max's March rollout. 

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