HBO Max International Chief Says Global Streaming Wars Are a ‘3-Horse Race’

By Jessica Lerner 

HBO Max, like other media titans, continues to try to carve out a niche in the already oversaturated global streaming market. However, Johannes Larcher, head of HBO Max International, believes the so-called streaming wars are a “three-horse race,” and HBO Max intends to be one of the three.

The streamer is now accessible in 61 countries across the world, with aspirations to expand to 190 territories by 2026. It debuted in 15 new European countries this month, including the Netherlands, Portugal, Hungary, Poland and Romania.

HBO Max intends to produce more international content as well. HBO Max produced ten international origins in 2019 and expects to develop roughly 40 by 2023.


Due to the growing cost of content, Larcher said at the annual MIPTV market in Cannes that large players have little choice but to go international to remain competitive.

“Netflix is clearly reaching saturation in the domestic market. Where will growth come from? Only one place: outside the U.S.,” said Larcher, according to Variety and the Hollywood Reporter.

He said that the only way to afford that level of content spend is if streamers leverage that investment over an ever-larger number of subscribers.

He pointed to Netflix’s massive increase in production spending, with plans for an additional $9 billion in programming spending in 2026 over 2021, “which would buy you almost 700 episodes of The Crown and about 50 Spider-Man: No Way Homes.”

Larcher pointed out that 95% of Netflix’s overall growth currently originates from outside the United States, citing the streaming market leader as an example.

Outside of the United States, HBO Max is focusing on various components of the program, prioritizing well-known shows like Sex and the City and Game of Thrones, as well as local originals, which are more likely to become household names in global markets.