HBO just launched its brand-new streaming service, HBO Max, to compete with the likes of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. It’s available right now and a subscription costs $15/month, which in the streaming world is pretty darn expensive. I know what you’re thinking. You already get HBO as part of my cable package, or you steal a family member’s or a friend’s login credentials to watch HBO Go, or you maybe pay for HBO Now if you’re a cord-cutter with nobody else’s login credentials — so why do you need to pay for something else?
Let’s try to answer the most obvious questions.
I don’t have an HBO subscription. Does HBO Max give me access to all the same movies and shows?
Yes. A subscription to HBO Max gives you access to all the same content that HBO currently offers. That means all of HBO’s original shows, like Game of Thrones, True Detective and The Sopranos, as well as the library of current movies that HBO offers on-demand.
Will I be able to watch show premieres in real-time with HBO Max?
The answer is yes. For example, if the new season of Westworld starts at 9 pm on HBO, that same episode will be available on HBO Max at 9 pm as well.
I already have HBO. Why should I get HBO Max?
The HBO Max subscription gives you access to other movies and shows that WarnerMedia (the company that now owns HBO) has rights to. This includes shows like Friends, The Big Bang Theory and Rick and Morty, as well as movies like The Lord of the Rings and movies in the DC Universe, like The Dark Knight trilogy and Wonder Woman. Additionally, there will be HBO Max originals that only subscribers will be able to watch. These originals include new TV series, like Anna Kendrick’s Love Life (available at launch), as well as shows like Ellen’s Home Design Challenge, which is Ellen DeGeneres’s competition show for interior designers.
I already have HBO. Can I get a deal on HBO Max?
It depends. If you subscribe to HBO Now, the good news is that you probably can upgrade to an HBO Max subscription for free. I say “probably” because it depends on how you subscribe to HBO Now. If you subscribed directly through HBO or you pay directly through your Apple or Google Play account, then you’ll get upgraded for free. Be sure to check HBO Now’s help desk for more information.
If you get HBO through your cable subscription or through HBO Go, you likely won’t be able to strike such a deal. If you subscribe through AT&T, which owns WarnerMedia and HBO, there’s a small chance you can get either a one-month, three-month or one-year subscription for free; check your HBO subscription through the AT&T app (myAT&T). If you don’t get HBO through AT&T, you’ll likely have to pay the full price for HBO Max.
Any red flags before I subscribe?
Two things. First, HBO has a lot of originals in the works that will exclusively be available on HBO Max, but right now, on launch day, there are only six original titles available. This includes three kid shows/cartoons (Looney Tunes Cartoons, The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo and the reality show Craftopia), Anna Kendrick’s rom-com series Love Life, a ballroom reality show called Legendary, and a docu-series focusing on the sexual abuse allegations against Russell Simmons, called On the Record. Essentially, if none of those titles strike your fancy, I might wait to subscribe. And secondly, HBO hasn’t struck a deal for HBO Max with Roku or Amazon just yet, so if you stream using a Roku TV or an Amazon Fire TV, you won’t be able to download the HBO Max app.