During a keynote speech for Mip TV in France on Tuesday, HBO Max global boss Johannes Larcher highlighted Netflix’s global expansion efforts, saying it’s a motivating factor for HBO Max. The former Hulu executive pointed to Netflix’s international subscriber growth from 147 million in 2021 to 266 million in 2026.
“Netflix is clearly reaching saturation in the domestic market,” Larcher said in his presentation. “Where will the growth come from? Only one place: outside the United States »
HBO Max is now available in 61 territories worldwide. In March, it was launched in 15 new European countries, including Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Romania. The streamer experiences a “basic level” in the Netherlands.
The streaming service is expected to launch in other countries later this year, such as Turkey, Greece, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. In addition, expansion plans in Southeast Asia have also been announced. HBO Max has also introduced a mobile-only tier in Latin America.
However, many countries in Europe are still unable to stream HBO Max, as the UK, France and Germany are still under contract with existing HBO pay-TV distribution deals. Additionally, Netflix recently hiked its subscription prices in the UK and Ireland, angering fans.
The UK is Netflix’s largest production hub outside of the US and Canada, and in 2020 the country had a content budget of $1 billion. According to Ampere Analysis, there are approximately 14 million Netflix subscribers in the UK and 600,000 in Ireland.
In his speech, Larcher noted that around 90% of HBO Max’s growth is now expected to come from outside the US and that the streamer plans to increase production of original European content from 10 shows in 2019 to 40. emissions by next year. In terms of total percentage of its offerings, Netflix’s foreign library has grown from 25% in 2019 to 31% in 2021.
Larcher also pointed to Netflix’s aggressive content spending, which he said is expected to grow from $12 billion in 2021 to $21 billion by 2026.
“Nine billion extra programming dollars buys a lot of content,” Larcher said. “That buys you almost 700 episodes of ‘The Crown’, 50 ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ movies. That ability to spend more on fan content makes it necessary to go global.
A streamer can only afford such a level of content spend “if you can leverage the investment on more subscribers. That’s why we all want to go global,” he added.
Larcher uses other competitors as an example, saying that instead of “airdropping America’s HBO Max to different countries,” his team provides personalized, tailored service to different territories based on their viewing and purchasing habits. “There are slight variations in how we position our brand market by market.”
Finally, the exec believes that with the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger set to close on Monday, April 11, it will help HBO Max achieve its international expansion goals faster than the streamer could have done on its own.
“It will diversify our content, our service,” he said. “We have a common vision of what the product should be in terms of packaging and how we are going to market.”