The streaming universe weaves a complex web already, and with HBO Max launching soon, things might look even more confusing. It’s safe to say that if any service can rival the likes of Netflix and Disney+ in terms of sheer sign-up numbers, then it’ll probably be HBO Max. The library will be jam-packed and include not only loads of movies and TV shows that make up existing HBO programming fare, but also a wealth of content that falls under the WarnerMedia stable. Importantly for many folks, HBO Max will also be the only place to stream every episode of Friends. Then there’s this added bonus: an expanding slate of wonderful-sounding HBO Max Original TV series and movies.
Subscribing seems like a done deal for anyone willing to shell out $14.99 per month, but there are still some relevant issues to iron out. One major question on peoples’ minds, for good reason, is how HBO Max will differ from the other two HBO streaming services (HBO Go and HBO Now) already offered. You’re probably also interested in pricing and timing details, along with the good stuff: details on exactly what will be included in the package. Some of the particulars — like which current HBO subscribers will get HBO Max at no cost — remain somewhat muddled, so let’s sort through what we know.
It’s the easiest detail. May 27 is go-time, so expect the vast majority of the existing HBO Max library to land then, along with a handful of original TV series (to be detailed later in this piece) and movies with followups to come.
HBO Max Vs. HBO Go And HBO Now:
– HBO Max is the newcomer streaming platform from WarnerMedia. At launch, the service will feature 10,000 hours of premium content, which includes HBO’s entire library, HBO Max Originals, a massive slew of Warner Bros. movies and TV shows, and much more. (We’ll talk the catalog stuff out soon.)
– HBO Go is the on-demand streaming service that HBO cable subscribers already receive as part of their subscription. The service includes HBO’s original content (TV series, documentaries, specials, and a decent chunk of movies), and access is tied into your specific cable TV package.
– HBO Now is a standalone, on-demand streaming offering for people who don’t hold a cable or satellite package but still want to subscribe to HBO and watch on a smart TV, laptop, tablet, phone or other compatible device. The current price for this service is $14.99 per month, and many current HBO Now subscribers will automatically receive HBO Max access (when the service launches) without any added cost.
If You’ve Got HBO, Do You Get A Free HBO Max Upgrade?
Maybe. The current guidelines just aren’t that clear-cut. We do know that neither HBO Go nor HBO Now will be erased from existence for the foreseeable future. You can keep on doing your thing independent of HBO Max and pretend that HBO Max doesn’t exist, but you probably will want to take advantage of the expanded library if you can.
– Those who subscribe to HBO (and, in turn, HBO Go) through a cable TV service may (or may not) be in luck. As it stands, there’s no deal between HBO and some cable TV service companies, but that could change in the future. However, HBO subscribers who pay for the channel through Charter or an AT&T package will receive HBO Max at no added charge. That includes subscribers to the AT&T-owned DirecTV, IPTV, AT&T TV, which means that millions of these HBO customers will get rolled into HBO Max. In a late-breaking announcement, HBO Max also announced partnerships with Alice USA, Cox Communications, Microsoft, National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC), Samsung, Sony Interactive Entertainment, and Verizon. Comcast has also hopped on board to provide HBO Max access to Xfinity X1 and Flex customers at no extra cost.
– HBO Now subscribers who pay straight through HBONow.com will automatically receive access to HBO Max when it launches. So will subscribers who sign up for HBO with the Hulu add-on or use Apple, Google, or YouTube TV to access HBO. And HBO Max has made a special point of saying that more partnerships might pop up before and following launch. Right now, though, it remains unclear whether those who pay for HBO Now as an add-on service through Amazon Prime or Roku will also gain access to HBO Max with no extra charge.
The Cost Of HBO Max:
– If you’re not already an HBO Now subscriber (or a fortunate package holder as described above), then HBO Max’s standard price will run $14.99 per month. That’s a higher price than Netflix’s standard plan ($12.99) and lower than its premium plan ($15.99). HBO Max also runs the same baseline price as HBO Now, but there’s a way to sign up now and lock into a special 12-month HBO Max rate for $11.99 per month. A limited (and unspecified) number of these discounted subscriptions are up for grabs before May 27, so visit the HBO Max home page to take advantage of the offer.
So, What Will HBO Max Include?
As mentioned earlier, one of HBO Max’s big boasts will be Friends (and the upcoming reunion special). That’s been the headline, but there’s much more up for grabs.
– Everything HBO, which includes all original HBO TV series, past and present. So, we’re talking about everything from Game of Thrones and Westworld to The Wire, along with The Sopranos, Veep, and Sex and the City. Basically, this means the whole back catalog of HBO programming in addition to new episodes as they air, and all of the HBO original movies, documentaries, and specials.
– Licensed TV content (much of it from Warner Bros) will include some high-demand series from past and present, including Rick And Morty, South Park (although new episodes won’t drop until the day after Comedy Central airs them), and The Big Bang Theory. Many CW series (including superhero and dramatic/soap-operatic fare) will also be folded into HBO Max. Tons of content from CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Cartoon Network, and Looney Tunes will also be on tap.
– Lots of movies (about 18,000 of them), which includes whatever is already available on HBO or one of their existing streaming services, plus all Warner Bros. movies, including The Matrix trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, the Harry Potter franchise, and so on. Under the Warner Bros. umbrella, comic book movies that fall under the DCEU (Justice League, Suicide Squad, Shazam, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and more caped dudes) and outside it (Joker) qualify. In addition, there’s plenty of classic movies up for grabs (The Shining, The Goonies, The Wizard Of Oz, etc.) along with every Studio Ghibli anime movie.
Max Originals (TV Shows And Movies)
AVAILABLE AT LAUNCH:
– Love Life: A romantic comedy series starring Anna Kendrick and Scoot McNairy
– Legendary: A reality competition series showcasing the underground ballroom community (expect plenty of vogue-ing) with a judging panel that includes Megan Thee Stallion
– On The Record: The documentary film that explores allegations of sexual abuse and harassment made against hip hop mogul Russell Simmons
– Craftopia, a youth-friendly crafting competition show that takes things to extremes
– Kid-geared programs including fresh New Looney Tunes offerings and The Not Too Late Show with Elmo
COMING IN 2020:
– The Friends reunion special, which will be unscripted
– Doom Patrol‘s new episodes for added DC flavor
– Raised By Wolves, a Ridley Scott-directed TV series in which androids raise humans
– The Flight Attendant, a dramatic TV series starring Kaley Cuoco
– A quarantine cooking series starring non-chef Selena Gomez, who receives assistance from culinary masters, all to benefit pandemic food-relief charities
– Search Party, Season 3 for the existing mystery comedy TV series
– Close Enough, an adult-oriented animated comedy series
– Expecting Amy, a docuseries from Amy Schumer about doing stand-up while pregnant
DATES TO BE ANNOUNCED:
– An American Pickle, a film starring Seth Rogen in dueling roles: (1) A 1920s laborer who awakens 100 years later in Brooklyn; (2) The immigrant’s grandson, a computer coder, who baffles his grandpa
– Three projects from J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot production company, including a Justice League Dark TV series, along with Overlook (inspired by and including characters from Stephen King’s The Shining) and Duster (a 1970s-set adventure about the life of a crime syndicate’s getaway driver)
– Five Conan O’Brien-hosted-and produced stand-up comedy specials, in which Coco will feature rising comics and hopefully stay funny in his own right
– Rap Sh*t, a comedy series produced by Issa Rae about three women attempting to take over the Miami music business
– A documentary movie about Anthony Bourdain
– A dark comedy series, starring Jean Smart (as a Las Vegas diva), from Michael Schur and Broad City alums Paul W. Downs, Lucia Aniello, and Jen Statsky
– The Boondocks: two new seasons and a standalone special
– College Girls, another coming-of-age comedy series from Mindy Kaling about, well, the life of female college students
– Multiple new DC Comics TV series, including a new show from Greg Berlanti (Riverdale); Strange Adventures, an anthology series about mortals interacting with superhumans, also from Berlanti; and DC Super Hero High, a comedy series from Elizabeth Banks
– Super Intelligence, a comedy film starring Melissa McCarthy as a woman whose dating adventures are of great interest to AI
– Bobbie Sue, a comedy film starring Gina Rodriguez as an attorney who’s a little fish in a big pond, which might be how we all feel while deciding what to watch on HBO Max when the enormous library arrives
HBO Max launches on May 27.