WarnerMedia officially entered the streaming market with HBO Max when it launched on Wednesday, May 27. The new streaming platform combines titles from across the Warner Bros. film and TV library in addition to featuring new original films and series.
It will have to compete with established services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, as well as CBS All Access, Disney+, Apple TV+, Quibi, and NBCUniversal's Peacock. So, how does HBO Max set itself apart? Let's take a look at everything you need to know about this new service, including details about its interface, pricing, and what originals and library titles are and will be available to subscribers.
HBO Max is here. WarnerMedia launched HBO Max on Wednesday, May 27. The tagline for the service is "Where HBO meets so much more" as a nod to its inclusion of both HBO and non-HBO titles. In addition to its half dozen original launch day titles, the streaming service boasts thousands of licensed titles, including several TV and film favorites.
It costs $14.99 per month. An HBO Max subscription will cost quite a bit more per month than competitors Disney+ ($6.99), Apple TV+ ($4.99), and Netflix ($12.99).
Many HBO subscribers do not have to pay extra. If you're already subscribed to HBO through direct billing, you will not be charged an additional cost for HBO Max access. Those providers include: AT&T, AT&T TV, DIRECTV, U-Verse TV, Cox, Hulu, Optimum, Spectrum, Suddenlink, Verizon Fios TV, or another select independent cable, broadband, and telco provider through the NCTC like WOW!, Atlantic Broadband, RCN, and MCTV.
HBO Go is going away: To help alleviate some of the confusion about HBO's multiple apps, Warner Media is shuttering HBO Go, the streaming app that came free with any premium cable subscription to the channel. HBO Go users will now have just HBO Max (which has an option for you to only look at HBO specific content). Users who do not have a subscription to the premium cable channel through their television providers but still only want HBO content and not Max's entire streaming library can still subscribe to HBO Now, which will now be simply called HBO.
There are multiple ways for new subscribers to sign up. For those who do not already pay for HBO, you can sign up for a subscription directly through HBO Max or the following services: AT&T, DIRECTV, U-Verse TV, Apple, Cox, Google Play, Hulu, Optimum, Samsung Smart TV, Spectrum, Suddenlink, Verizon Fios, YouTube TV, and select independent cable, broadband and telco providers through the NCTC, including WOW!, Atlantic Broadband, RCN, and MCTV. On Launch Day, HBO Max announced it finally reached a deal with Comcast to add HBO Max support; customers who subscribe to HBO through Comcast will automatically be upgraded to HBO Max, with an Xfinity HBO Max app coming soon. In the meantime, Comcast subscribers can use the HBO Max web app.
Several devices are currently supported. The HBO Max app is now available on several devices, including Android phones and tablets, Android TV including Sony Android TVs (2016 models and later), Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD), Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices, computers (Chromebooks, PC and Mac browsers), select Samsung Smart TVs (models 2016-2020), PlayStation 4 systems, and Xbox One.
What happens to DC Universe customers: HBO Max boss Kevin Reilly announced at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in January 2020 that the exact partnership between HBO Max and DC Universe is still being worked out, but he hopes the services will "work in tandem." Reilly added, "We're hoping to honor the fans. In the managing all of that with DC, that's a very important part of the equation."
It won't put out as much original content as some competitors. In a presentation for investors in October 2019, WarnerMedia Entertainment chair Robert Greenblatt said that HBO Max wasn't focused on "the number of times at bat," but rather on "hitting a home run every time." That might mean a smaller roster of titles than, say, competing streamer Netflix. "We actually think the value proposition improves when we narrow the options, removing much of the filler no one watches anyway," Greenblatt said.
New shows will release episodes weekly. Instead of releasing entire seasons at once, à la Netflix, HBO Max will roll out new episodes weekly. Old seasons will be available to binge, though, and most HBO Max Originals will premiere with the first three episodes, followed by weekly installments.
HBO Max uses hubs. The HBO Max library features nine content hubs, titled: HBO, DC, Sesame Workshop, Classics Curated by Turner Classic Movies, Studio Ghibli, Cartoon Network Collection, Adult Swim Collection, Crunchyroll Collection, and Looney Tunes.
There are six titles available on launch day: HBO Max launched with six original titles available to watch: Craftopia, Love Life, Legendary, Looney Tunes, The Not-Too-Late Show With Elmo, and On the Record. Find out more about those launch day titles right here.
HBO Max will make 50 original titles available by 2021. HBO Max's original titles — 38 in 2020, with an additional 12 being added for 2021 — are aimed mainly at three demographics: children and families, millennials and Gen Z, and adult women. The streamer will release between five and 10 new originals per year after that. Find out which HBO Max Originals are available on launch day right here.
Yes, a Friends reunion special is nigh. After several month of rumors, HBO confirmed in February that it will be delivering an unscripted reunion special featuring all six central (perk) Friends stars: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, and Matt LeBlanc. The reunion special was initially expected to arrive in May, when the streaming service debuts, however, production on the special was delayed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and will premiere at another, as-yet-undetermined date.
The streaming service will finally #ReleaseTheSnyderCut: DC Universe nerds rejoice! HBO Max will finally release Zack Snyder's director's cut of Justice League in 2021, after years of fans clamoring for this edition of the superhero smash after Joss Whedon took over directing the theatrical release when Snyder stepped down due to a family emergency.
A ton of exclusive new shows and movies are being created for the service. HBO Max will have a wide library of all-new scripted and unscripted offerings. Highlights include a quarantine-inspired cooking show with Selena Gomez; a Gossip Girl sequel series (featuring the return of Kristen Bell) following a new generation of Upper East Siders grappling with the social landscape of New York private school life; a dog grooming competition series featuring celebrity dog groomer Jess Rona; a Green Lantern series from Arrowverse creator Greg Berlanti; and Steven Soderbergh's Let Them All Talk, starring Meryl Streep as an author who goes on a journey with old friends. Here's a complete list of the original shows and movies HBO Max is making.
It's venturing into the comedy game too. HBO Max will expand its original slate through the addition of stand-up specials from Tracy Morgan (The Last O.G.); John Early (Search Party); Rose Matafeo, an Edinburgh Comedy Award winner; and Ahir Shah, a double Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee. The streaming service has also partnered with Conan O'Brien and Team Coco to bring additional specials to its library. O'Brien will host two specials that feature short sets from up-and-coming comics while curating hour-long sets from three comedians. In addition to those five specials, HBO Max has also purchased the rights to a one-hour special from James Veitch.
Some existing shows are on the move. Search Party moves from TBS to HBO Max for its upcoming third season, and the streaming service has already picked up the show for Season 4. Adventure Time is also being revived for HBO Max as well with four hour-long specials. Additionally, Sesame Street is moving from HBO to HBO Max beginning with Season 51. The deal includes five new seasons of Sesame Street, a number of new spin-offs and specials, and the show's entire 50-year library. New episodes will continue to air on PBS Kids after premiering on HBO Max. Find out more about what original titles are in the works at HBO Max right here.
HBO Max features a vast library of existing shows and movies. The new streaming service features titles from across Warner's properties, including Warner Bros., HBO, New Line, DC Entertainment, CNN, TNT, TBS, TruTV, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes, and more. Films available as of launch include all eight Harry Potter films, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Wonder Woman, Joker, Casablanca, and the complete Studio Ghibli collection. The library also includes the exclusive streaming rights to all 10 seasons of Friends as well as The West Wing, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Pretty Little Liars. HBO Max is also the exclusive streaming home for all 12 seasons of The Big Bang Theory, which will be joined by its spin-off Young Sheldon. It's also a destination for adult animated series, with Rick and Morty available now and South Park coming June 24.
Fans can also stream full seasons of ongoing shows. New CW series like Batwoman, Nancy Drew, and the Riverdale spin-off Katy Keene will stream on HBO Max after each season concludes. HBO Max will also boast the exclusive streaming rights to the BBC's Doctor Who (though not the classic series that aired from 1963-1989), Top Gear, and Luther starting next year.
HBO's new content will be a major feature. Count on seeing some of your HBO favorites available on the streaming service, including upcoming new shows that will also be available to HBO subscribers, like Stephen King's The Outsider, Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams' horror series Lovecraft Country, Joss Whedon's The Nevers, Julian Fellowes' The Gilded Age, David E. Kelley's The Undoing, and Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon.
Sports might become a fixture ... eventually. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson revealed over the summer that HBO Max might eventually get into the live sports business, with an eye on NBA, MLB, and soccer games.
Cinemax content will not join HBO Max: Despite sharing half a name, HBO sibling network Cinemax will not be joining the HBO Max party. Reilly and Michael Quigley (executive vice president of content acquisitions for TNT, TBS, truTV, HBO, and HBO Max) confirmed in January 2020 that Cinemax legacy shows like Banshee and Strike Back will not be coming to the new streaming service.
HBO Max launched on Wednesday, May 27.
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