HBO Max launches in US: Everything you need to know
Staff Reporter | On 29, May 2020Reading time: 9 mins
This week saw the launch of HBO Max in the USA. The new subscription service, which is the latest to enter the increasingly competitive streaming market, takes a similar approach to Disney+, by bringing together all of WarnerMedia’s catalogue into one place. That means everything from New Line, DC, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV and The CW to Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes and, of course, HBO.
Any launch of a new streaming platform, though, opens up a wealth of questions, from pricing and content to when it’s available in the UK. We break down what you need to know:
What’s on HBO Max?
It boasts some 10,000 hours of content, including all the HBO shows you’d expect such as Westworld, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Game of Thrones, Veep, The Wire, Silicon Valley and other HBO documentaries and films.
It also has exclusive streaming rights to South Park, Rick & Morty (shared with Hulu), The Big Bang Theory, South Park, the new seasons of Doctor Who, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Batwoman, Doom Patrol, The OC, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, and the jewel in the crown of the Warner archive, Friends.
And then there are the movies, which include Crazy Rich Asians, A Star Is Born, a wealth of DC superhero flicks, The Matrix, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings franchises, plus the entire Studio Ghibli film catalogue.
What HBO Max originals are there?
At launch, there are six HBO Max originals included, including a romantic series starring Anna Kendrick, a music industry documentary, On the Record, plus HBO Max’s answer to RuPaul’s Drag Race, Legendary. There were also plans for a Friends reunion to be available at launch, but the coronavirus pandemic has delayed the filming on that, which may now take place at the end of summer.
Others in the pipeline include Seth Rogen film An American Pickle, Adventure Time: Distant Lands (June), Close Enough (July), Expecting Amy (July), The House of Ho (July), Dune: The Sisterhood, Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, Grease: Rydell High, DC series Strange Adventures, Justice League Dark and Green Lantern, Overlook, date TBC – Based on Stephen King’s The Shining, a spin-off series from The Shining, crime drama Duster, and LGBTQ+ docuseries Equal. Further afield, there’s the Zack Snyder cut of Justice League in 2021, and, eventually, Game of Thrones spin-off House of Dragon.
On the Record
Looney Tunes Cartoons
The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo
How much does HBO Max cost?
That’s a tricky question, as HBO is offering free access to HBO Max at no extra charge to existing HBO and HBO Now subscribers, which means it costs $14.99 a month – but that only applies to companies that have agreed a deal to offer HBO Max at this price to existing HBO subscribers. The key thing to note here is that the price puts it higher than Netflix, which currently tops out at £11.99 at its most expensive option, including 4K streaming. That gives you an indication of how confident HBO is, in a marketplace where Disney+ has chosen the opposite strategy of undercutting Netflix at £5.99 a month.
When is HBO Max available in the UK?
At the moment, it isn’t. When will it come the UK? Don’t expect it until at least 2024, with HBO extending its deal with Sky – its exclusive UK partner – back in 2019 for what was reportedly a five-year term. Just like Disney+ couldn’t launch in the UK due to a similar arrangement with Sky, it will be several years until HBO attempts a launch on British soil – and even then, it may choose not to. Hulu, after all, has never made the jump, choosing instead to license its originals out to other broadcasters and streamers.
Where can I watch HBO Max originals in the UK?
Most HBO Max originals are likely to be available on Sky Atlantic or Sky Cinema, with some of them also licensed out to other third parties. A number of co-productions include Home and Stath Lets Flats (Channel 4), Ghosts (BBC One), Frayed (Sky One), White House Farm (ITV). Studio Ghibli films are available on Netflix UK, Doom Patrol is available on STARZPLAY in the UK, while Batwoman airs on E4. Arrow, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash are on Sky One.
On the Record is coming to Sky Documentaries in July.
Other release dates for HBO Max’s launch titles have not been confirmed yet, but watch this space for the latest updates and information.
HBO Max set for May 2020 US launch
30th October 2019
HBO Max will officially launch in May 2020, WarnerMedia has announced.
The entertainment giant, owned by parent company AT&T, has been readying its new subscription service for some time, planning to pull back its content from other subscription platforms and build on its existing library and brands to assemble a viable rival to Netflix. It’s doing so just as Disney and Apple plan to mount similar challenges, as well as NBC’s Peacock. And so, just before Disney+ and Apple TV+ launch in the coming weeks (in the US and globally respectively), WarnerMedia is getting the jump on announcing its own details.
The platform’s library will comprise TV shows, on-demand movies, some live primetime HBO shows and content from anything else Warner has in its vault. That means exclusive rights to every episode of Friends – it is famously set to depart Netflix soon. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Pretty Little Liars will follow suit, as well as dibs on some shows from The CW, including Batwoman and Riverdale spin-off Katy Keene.
It will have at launch some 10,000 hours of content, including exclusive streaming rights to South Park, Rick & Morty (with shared rights with Hulu in the US – it is on All 4 in the UK), new shows from Elizabeth Banks, Issa Rae and Mindy Kaling, plus an adaptation of Strange Adventures and a Green Lantern series. And, perhaps the jewel in the crown, the new Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon, announced today.
HBO Max will also have 1,800 movies at launch, include The Matrix series, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings franchises as well as all titles in the last 10 years from DC Entertainment, Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix, and the entire Studio Ghibli film catalogue.
It will launch in May 2020 in the US and cost $14.99 per month, with existing subscribers to HBO Now getting access to HBO Max for no extra cost. The result is a platform that will cost the same as HBO’s standalone streaming service but offer twice the amount of content, albeit a platform that is nonetheless more expensive than Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and Apple TV+.
WarnerMedia is confident it can grow at that price point, though, with 75 to 90 million HBO Max subscribers, including 50 million in the US, targeted for 2025. That include the existing HBO base of around 34 million in the US.
Boosting its appeal will be a slew of features that you can expect to become technological benchmarks for other services. HBO Max will allow users to listen to podcasts, follow actors in the same way people follow influencers and find content through lists curated by both algorithms and humans.
What does all this mean for UK viewers? Likely not very much, as HBO’s longstanding relationship with Sky is set to continue.
Today, the two companies announced they have agreed an extension to their programming deals across Sky’s European markets, meaning Sky and NOW TV customers will be able to enjoy content from HBO and Warner Bros as well as, crucially, from Turner channels (one of the key forces behind Warner’s former FilmStruck service) for “many years to come”.
Building on the relationship with HBO, Sky Studios will now also work with WarnerMedia’s HBO Max programming team to produce premium drama and scripted entertainment for Sky and HBO customers across Europe and beyond, as part of a multi-year co-production deal.
The new expanded deal also extends the pay TV rights for Warner Bros first-run feature films adding to the strong relationship already in place and brings Sky customers more movies from Warner Bros than before. The deal also includes, again crucially, richer on-demand content under the Cartoon Network and Boomerang brands – all signs that Sky and NOW TV will be the primary home of HBO content for the foreseeable future.
HBO Max: Warner officially unveils streaming platform
11th July 2019
Warner has officially unveiled its new streaming platform, calling it HBO Max.
The subscription platform offering is a big step for parent company AT&T, which is looking to enter the competitive and potentially lucrative OTT arena – a move that is also being undertaken by Disney (and, as part of that, Fox) and NBC. Rather than launch with the Warner name, its building on its existing brand to take on Netflix.
“Anchored with and inspired by the legacy of HBO’s excellence and award-winning storytelling, the new service will be ‘Maximized’ with an extensive collection of exclusive original programming (Max Originals) and the best-of-the-best from WarnerMedia’s enormous portfolio of beloved brands and libraries,” the company announced in a press release this week.
The platform’s library will comprise TV shows, on-demand movies, some live primetime HBO shows and content from anything else Warner has in its vault. That means exclusive rights to every episode of Friends when it launches in spring 2020 – it is famously set depart Netflix in 2019. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Pretty Little Liars will follow suit, as well as dibs on some show’s from The CW, including Batwoman and Riverdale spin-off Katy Keene.
New Line, DC, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, The CW, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes and more will all fall under the HBO Max umbrella, as it looks to pull its shows from third-party sites that have licensed them to bolster its own streaming coffers. (NBC, similarly, will pull The Office to stream exclusively on its own app).
Of course, all of this is currently just for US audiences: in the UK, The CW Arrowverse shows are on Sky One, which means Warner may have longer deals in place until those third part agreements expire, or that Warner launch HBO Max for British subscribers much later. For now, here’s a video launching the new service: