Xoxo, HBO Max pic.twitter.com/54BV5IY56i
— HBO Max (@hbomax) February 14, 2020
As a long-standing giant when it comes to movies and original content, it was only a matter of time until HBO released its own streaming service. While HBO has always been a subscription-based channel and has had its own stand-alone streaming website and app (HBO Now and HBO Go, respectively), HBO Max looks to ultimately replace those services. HBO Max will have all the same shows and movies as HBO Now, plus a larger catalog of licensed programming and exclusive originals.
HBO first announced plans for a new streaming service in October but started teasing new content in February and hopes to launch HBO Max in May. This is one of the many new streaming services that have been announced within the past six months, a period that media experts are now referring to as “the streaming wars.” At $15 per month (the same cost as the current HBO Now subscription), HBO Max will be the most expensive of those services.
As it stands, Disney+ is $7 a month, Apple TV users are paying $5 a month, Netflix has increased to about $13 a month, Hulu Premium costs $12 a month, an Amazon Prime student membership is $60 a year and a basic subscription to NBC’s new streaming service, Peacock, will be about $5 a month. Most of these services offer student deals and other discounts for further price reductions and bundles. HBO Now does not offer any such discounts yet.
So why should we bother with yet another subscription and service? HBO is a heavyweight contender when it comes to original content. “Game of Thrones” made a gross profit of about $2.28 billion and brought in about 17.4 million viewers at the time of its finale. With that success rate, there’s no question the network would want to continue its prosperity. There were rumors of other related original shows after “GoT” wrapped, but now with the release of HBO Max, the network also confirmed a prequel series, “House of the Dragon,” tentatively set to premiere in 2022.
But will the distant promise of more George R.R. Martin content be enough to hold over HBO loyals and win over skeptics? With other services releasing hits like “The Mandalorian,” what will the new sites’ claim to fame be?
AT&T, which owns HBO, is investing billions of dollars into original programming as well as making deals to stream popular reruns like “Friends” and “The Big Bang Theory.” In the past few weeks, it has been announced that HBO Max will be home to the unscripted “Friends” reunion as well as a mysterious “Gossip Girl” reboot, new titles in the D.C. universe, J.J. Abrams’ projects, comedy specials, animated cartoons and documentaries. Some big names already associated with these original programs, currently being dubbed “Max Originals,” include Reese Witherspoon, Melissa McCarthy and Gina Rodriguez.
HBO is rumored to be releasing 31 exclusive original programs within its first year, and is already planning to increase that to 50 in the second year, once it’s available more internationally. About half of these originals are allegedly geared toward a young adult demographic.
After all the recent drama with Disney+ pulling more diverse, mature content, such as the “Lizzie McGuire” reboot and the “Love, Simon” series, HBO Max might be in an excellent position to gain subscribers. When shows like this are left without a home but with plenty of traction and fans willing to follow actresses like Hilary Duff, viewers may turn to HBO.
Some people who already have an existing subscription to HBO will be able to unlock HBO Max at no extra cost, but not everyone. Subscribers to HBO Now can upgrade to HBO Max free, and HBO subscribers via AT&T can watch for free, too.
It is unclear if HBO Max will be included if you get your HBO through another cable TV provider. When AT&T announced HBO Max at a three-hour presentation in October, the company said it was still in talks with other providers about offering HBO Max to their traditional HBO subscribers.
HBO Max will be compatible with most devices. With over 18,000 movies and all that new content, that $15 a month doesn’t sound so bad. Keep an eye out for new announcements and updates as the May release date approaches.
Julia Mancini is the life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at Julia.firstname.lastname@example.org.