HBO is one of the oldest and continuously-operating pay television services. It became a household name by offering theatrical movies, original television shows, and documentaries, as well as comedy and concert specials beamed directly into people’s living rooms. In recent years they have been lauded for their prestige television dramas, like Game of Thrones and The Sopranos. With HBO Max, HBO’s parent company, WarnerMedia, is entering a crowded field of players, all angling for your subscription dollars.
How Is It Different than HBO Now and HBO Go?
For those of you keeping count, HBO Max is the third streaming service from HBO. It comes on the heels of HBO Now and HBO Go, both of which are still operating. Why has HBO opted for such an unconventional structure, especially when it only seems to confuse potential customers? The answer lies in HBO’s complicated history. Because it premiered way back in the 1970s, it was tied to cable subscription services. As a result, HBO was an optional channel that cable and satellite dish subscribers could choose to pay for.
In the early 2000s, HBO made it’s first foray into streaming content with HBO On Demand. This was an add-on service for existing subscribers that allowed customers to watch content on demand. In 2009 HBO on Broadband was launched and was later re-branded HBO Go.
Unfortunately, HBO Go required you to have a cable subscription. In an effort to appeal to customers who were cutting the cord, HBO Now was launched in 2015. Unlike HBO Go, HBO Now is a standalone service that does not require an active cable subscription. While both will still be operational when HBO Max launches in May, they newer service will be the company’s main area of focus.
What Content Is Available?
HBO Max will be home to approximately 10,000 hours of content. This includes every title from HBO’s massive catalog of original television series, movies, documentaries and specials. In addition, it will feature content drawn upon WarnerMedia’s extensive holdings, including DC Entertainment, New Line Cinema, Cartoon Network, The CW, TBS, TNT, and more. Through partnerships, HBO Max will be the streaming home of various BBC series in the United States. Additionally, the service will feature a number of licensed titles, such as the entire run of Friends and The Big Bang Theory.
In addition to paying big bucks to land the streaming rights to some of your favorite classics, WarnerMedia is investing heavily in original content. When HBO Max launches in late May, it will be home to a variety of high profile shows exclusive to the platform.
Dubbed Max Originals, these include the anthology show Love Life, starring Anna Kendrick, and the Ridley Scott-produced sci-fi yarn, Raised by Wolves. Furthermore, HBO Max will feature exclusive movies not found on any other HBO platform, such as the Seth Rogen comedy, An American Pickle. Overall, HBO Max plans on delivering 31 exclusive shows in 2020. The service plans to expand that offering to 50 titles by 2021.
HBO Max will also be the exclusive home to the so-called “Snyder Cut” of the 2017 film Justice League. Fans have been clamoring for a director’s cut of the film after director Zack Snyder left production due to a family tragedy. The new edit of the film is rumored to be darker in tone and much longer. Initial reports suspect that the film could run about four hours in length or could be shown in a miniseries format. This, along with other high-profile exclusive content, such as the Friends reunion, gives the service some serious ammunition in the streaming wars.
HBO Max will officially launch on May 27th in the United States. There are plans for it to be available in other countries around the world. However, at the time of writing, launch dates have not been formally announced. That being said, HBO Max won’t be available in other countries until 2021. Furthermore, the content that will be available in regions outside the U.S. is unknown. It’s hard to say exactly what content HBO Max will offer up in foreign markets. This is thanks to complicated partnerships with local providers as well as foreign licensing and distribution rights.
Compared to its competitors, HBO Max is going to be one of the more expensive streaming providers out there. At launch, the service is slated to cost $15 per month. Fortunately, there is a bonus for signing up for the service before it goes live on May 27th. Early subscribers will be treated to a $3 monthly discount for the first 12 months. This means you’ll be locked in to a price of $11.99 per month for the first year.
Despite the high price tag, there is some good news for existing HBO subscribers. Customers who subscribe to HBO via AT&T, including AT&T TV, DirecTV, U-verse and AT&T Mobility, will receive access to HBO Max at launch for no additional cost. Furthermore, customers who are signed up for the highest tier Internet, TV and wireless plans will also get HBO Max for free. Folks on lower-tiered plans will get a free trial, ranging in length from one month to one year. Finally, if you already subscribe to HBO Now, you will automatically be migrated to HBO Max at no additional charge.