HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s new streaming service combining HBO with Warner Bros. movies and Turner TV shows, will launch on May 27th, the company announced today.
HBO Max’s big selling point is being able to combine all of HBO’s offerings on top of a slate of original titles that are exclusive to the app, classic Warner Bros. movies, and more. HBO Max will also be the exclusive home of Friends, which hasn’t been streaming anywhere in the United States since it left Netflix on January 1st. (Although some of the service’s exclusives, like the Friends reunion special, are facing delays following production issues caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.)
The streaming service offers more to watch than HBO Now and HBO Go, and WarnerMedia and AT&T are hoping people who use both services will switch over to Max, the company’s new crown jewel. Existing HBO subscribers on AT&T (approximately 10 million) and HBO Now direct billing subscribers will get HBO Max for free, the company previously announced. Customers who subscribe to AT&T’s premium video, mobile, and broadband packages will be offered bundles with HBO Max at no additional cost.
HBO Max is one of the last major entrants in the streaming wars this year, following Quibi and NBCUniversal’s Peacock. It’s also one of the most expensive streaming services on the market, coming in at $14.99 a month. That’s the same price as what customers pay for the network via their cable packages as well as the price of HBO’s current standalone streaming app, HBO Now.
AT&T is working out deals with other cable providers and virtual TV services to try to get HBO Max into as many hands as possible. AT&T announced a few months ago that HBO Max will be offered via YouTube TV for customers who use Google’s virtual TV service. AT&T also worked out a deal with Charter, allowing customers who currently subscribe to HBO through Charter, including those who pay for Charter’s Silver and Gold video packages, to access to Max when it launches. AT&T estimates that HBO Max will have 50 million subscribers in the United States by 2024.
During a preview event for HBO Max last year, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told investors, journalists, and analysts that HBO Max is “very different from anything else that you’ve seen in the market so far.” While production is shut down around the world, affecting every studio and network working on new series, that uniqueness will have to come in the form of older, original WarnerMedia titles sitting in the company’s impressive archive.