What is HBO Max?
It’s simple: HBO Max is pretty much the reason AT&T bought Time Warner in the first place.
Not long after the telecommunications giant acquired Time Warner for $85 billion and renamed it WarnerMedia last year, the company announced it was developing a streaming service that would house content from across Warner’s many brands: HBO, TBS, TNT, CNN, and the Warner Bros. film and TV studios, among other assets. Later, it revealed the service would be called HBO Max (even though it includes plenty of non-HBO content), hoping to capitalize on the prestige TV channel’s cherished global brand.
AT&T thinks HBO Max will not only help it compete against Netflix, but that it will also act as something of a buffer for all the DirecTV customers AT&T is losing to cord-cutting. DirecTV, which is owned by AT&T, lost more than a half million subscribers in the first quarter of this year.
What’s included in a subscription?
A lot, actually. WarnerMedia says it will total 10,000 hours of content. These are the main components:
Everything from HBO: Game of Thrones, The Leftovers, The Sopranos—you name it. If it aired or will air on the HBO linear TV channel, HBO Max will give you access to it.Ditto for shows from Warner’s suite of cable channels, including TBS, TNT, CNN, truTV, and Cartoon Network.Warner Bros. movies: WarnerMedia owns the streaming rights to many of the countless films produced under the Warner Bros. banner over the years. So most of those films, from A Star Is Born to Batman v Superman, will appear on HBO Max. But the rights to some of them are tied up with other companies. Harry Potter, for instance, will stream exclusively on NBCUniversal until at least 2025—despite it being a Warner Bros. film franchise. Warner Bros. TV shows: The story is the same for shows produced by Warner’s TV unit. WarnerMedia owns the streaming rights to many of them, but not all. Luckily, it’s making things a little easier on us by buying back the rights to many of the shows it licensed out to other services, like Friends. WarnerMedia reclaimed the rights to the beloved 1990s sitcom from Netflix earlier this year. BBC: WarnerMedia recently acquired the streaming rights to several shows produced by BBC, including all 11 seasons of Doctor Who, Luther, and Top Gear. Turner Classic Movies. Thousands of classic films, from Gone With the Wind to Casablanca, air throughout the year on the Turner Classic Movies TV channel, which WarnerMedia owns. At least some of those films will be available to stream on HBO Max. Lots and lots of new stuff: WarnerMedia is developing original programming specifically for HBO Max. These will be called “Max Originals,” according to CNN. Reese Witherspoon and Arrowverse super-producer Greg Berlanti are both producing content for HBO Max. There will be a Dune TV series that serves as a prequel to next year’s feature film. There will also be some kind of sequel series to Gossip Girl.
When does it launch?
A “beta” version of the service will launch later this year, according to the Wall Street Journal. The full version of HBO Max is expected to be available in spring 2020.
How much does it cost?
We don’t know for sure yet, but the Wall Street Journal reported that WarnerMedia is eying a $16-to-$17-per-month price tag, which would be $2 more than a standalone HBO subscription and about $4 more than Netflix.
How do I get it?
If you’re an existing HBO subscriber, then you’ll probably get access to HBO Max automatically. If you don’t pay for HBO, then you’ll have to sign up for the service at its standard price tag.
Why is it called HBO Max?
WarnerMedia is making HBO the centerpiece of the streaming service, which makes a lot of sense, as it’s easily the company’s most lucrative business, with the most famous intellectual property. But it’s also a gamble: The HBO brand has long stood for quality over quantity, so if WarnerMedia suddenly lumps a whole lot of new content under the HBO umbrella (some of which very likely will not live up to the channel’s high standards), then it risks seriously diluting the brand that millions of consumers around the world have come to admire.
How is it different from HBO Go and HBO Now?
HBO Go is the free on-demand streaming component that only HBO cable TV subscribers are given with their subscription. HBO Now is the standalone internet version of HBO that anyone can buy, even without a traditional cable TV subscription. So HBO Max is basically a slightly more expensive HBO Now plus all the other goodies mentioned above.