HBO Max: Everything you need to know
HBO's loaded new streaming service packs a whole lot
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Whether you believe this is a golden age of television or not, we’ve certainly never had such easy and instant access to entertainment. A seemingly limitless world of movies and TV shows can be browsed and binged from the comfort of our living rooms.
Pioneers like Netflix have forever changed the way we watch TV, but the war of the streaming services is only just beginning to heat up, as heavyweights like Disney+ step into the fray. HBO Max is up next, and you can sign up right now for $14.99 per month after a free trial.
HBO hosts one of the richest and most critically acclaimed video libraries in existence, and it's been punching below weight in its online offerings. HBO Max is its latest attempt at one, consolidated streaming service and it aims to make it a contender by adding a ton of new titles from across AT&T’s media empire—including studios like Warner Bros, who just announced its entire 2021 slate will be released on HBO Max.
Here's everything you need to know about HBO Max.
What is HBO Max?
HBO Max is an on-demand subscription streaming service that will combine content from HBO and WarnerMedia, backed by parent company AT&T. The service arrived May 27th. HBO Max offers more than 10,000 hours of content at launch, with a mixture of existing hit shows and movies and brand-new, exclusive originals.
HBO Max is designed to compete with other on-demand streaming services that offer massive content catalogs, such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video.
HBO Max offers a much larger library of content than existing services, HBO Go or HBO Now, because it provides access to movies and TV shows from other entertainment companies under WarnerMedia, including films and TV from HBO, DC Entertainment, Turner Classic Movies, Studio Ghibli, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Looney Toons, and Sesame Street, as well as exclusive “Max Originals” programming.
How much does HBO Max cost?
HBO Max costs $14.99 per month, after a seven-day free trial. That price will get you access to everything.
If you’re already paying $14.99 for HBO or HBO Now, then this much larger content library will be an easy sell. However, the pricing is on the high side when you consider that Disney Plus costs $6.99 per month, and the standard plan on Netflix is $12.99 per month.
As an incentive to add more subscribers, AT&T is offering some customers HBO Max for free or at a discount in concert with their AT&T video, internet, or wireless service.
At time of publication, AT&T customers eligible for a discount include video subscribers to DirecTV Premier and Lo Maximo; U-Verse U400, U450, and U450 Latino; AT&T TV Choice, Xtra, or Ultimate; DirecTV Choice, Xtra, Ultimate, among others. Other subscribers of AT&T video packages may be eligible for 3 months of HBO Max for free.
Subscribers to AT&T's Internet 1000 plan are also eligible for a free HBO Max subscription, while other AT&T internet users may be eligible for one month free.
Finally, AT&T wireless subscribers may be eligible for free or discounted HBO Max plans. The service will be included with AT&T's Unlimited Elite wireless plan, while subscribers to other AT&T plans, including Unlimited Extra, may be eligible for one month free.
We recommend checking out AT&T's HBO Max info page to find out if you qualify for HBO Max for free or at a discount.
While that's plenty to chew on, just how you get HBO Max is even more complicated—especially if you already subscribe to some form of HBO.
How do I get HBO Max?
AT&T, the owner of HBO and the new streaming service, is notorious for its complicated streaming layout. And because there are so many ways to subscribe to HBO (whether directly or through a third party), HBO Max is more confusing than most.
The simplest way to get HBO Max: just sign up for a free one-week trial through the HBO Max website. You’ll then need to download the HBO Max app on a supported device to start watching.
The service is currently available on Android phones and tablets (OS 5.0 and up), Android TV (OS 5.0 and up), Apple TV (fourth gen or later), Chromebooks, Chromecast, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch (iOS 12.2 and up), PC and Mac, PlayStation 4, Samsung TV (2016 models or later), and Xbox One.
If you're a new subscriber, you can sign-up at HBO Max's website. If you receive a discounted plan through one of the above providers, you can still sign up above for a free trial and then activate your discounted subscription through the provider website.
HBO Now subscribers
If you currently subscribe to HBO Now, your account may have automatically switched to HBO Max. But, according to HBO, this will depend upon how you signed up for HBO Now.
If you signed up and are billed through Google Play, Apple, Samsung, Verizon Fios internet, Optimum, Consolidated Communications, and Liberty Cablevision of Puerto Rico, your HBO Now account should automatically switch over to HBO Max.
HBO says that subscribers who started a subscription from HBO directly or those who signed up through hbonow.com using an HBO Now gift card will also get instant access.
Otherwise, if you signed up through a different third-party, you may need to change your account manually by following HBO's signup steps outlined in this link. (Note: You'll need to know the email you used when originally signing up for HBO Now.)
Subscribers to HBO or HBO Go
If you subscribe to HBO through other methods, you may or may not be able to transfer your account to HBO Max.
Those who signed up for HBO through Hulu or from the following pay-TV companies will automatically be switched to HBO Max: AT&T TV, DirecTV, AT&T U-Verse, Spectrum, Altice, Suddenlink, Optimum, Cox Contour, Verizon Fios TV, and "select independent cable and broadband providers." Comcast is not currently among the providers eligible for HBO Max. Otherwise, if you don't see your cable provider on this list, you may want to reach out to your provider directly.
How is HBO Max different from HBO Now and HBO Go?
HBO Go and HBO Now offer programming from the HBO television network. When you upgrade to HBO Max, you get so much more—at no additional cost.
Between Turner Classic Movies, Studio Ghibli, DC Entertainment, Max Originals, and lots of family-friendly shows, Max offers so much more than HBO Now ever did.
If your current plan doesn't automatically transfer over to HBO Max, you should likely cancel and make the move; you get more content now and in the future, and likely for the same $15 per month you were spending.
What TV shows will be on HBO Max?
Original and exclusive content will be vital to HBO Max’s success, and to that end it plans to have over 30 exclusive original shows (Max Originals) in the first year, ramping up to 50 in the second year. It will also feature all existing HBO shows, those in development, and new seasons of some existing HBO shows.
Here are some of the TV show highlights in development that we’ve heard about:
- Raised by Wolves – A sci-fi show by Ridley Scott about androids raising human children.
- J.J. Abrams deal – Abrams has signed a deal to helm some unknown projects for HBO Max.
- Dune: The Sisterhood – A spin-off of the hotly anticipated upcoming movie, with a pilot directed by Denis Villeneuve.
- Tokyo Vice – A memoir about an American reporter on the Police beat in Japan, directed by Michael Mann.
- Green Lantern – Live-action series from Arrow producer, Greg Berlanti.
- More DC shows – Strange Adventures, Aquaman: King of Atlantis, DC Superhero High, DMZ, and Doom Patrol.
- Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai – A new animated series based on the movies.
- College Girls – A half-hour teen comedy series from Mindy Kaling.
- Rap Sh*t – A half-hour comedy series covering the music business in Miami from Issa Rae.
- The Last of the Mohicans – A new series based on James Fenimore Cooper's historic novel.
- Station Eleven – A 10-episode series based on the post-apocalyptic saga by Emily St. John Mandel.
- Grease: Rydell High – A spin-off series based on the popular 1978 musical.
- Made for Love – A dark comedy based on the novel of the same name starring Cristin Milioti.
- The Flight Attendant – Based on the novel and created by actress Kaley Cuoco.
- Circe – Based on the Madeline Miller novel about the sorceress from The Odyssey.
- Love Life – A romantic comedy starring Anna Kendrick.
- Generation – A half-hour high school drama/comedy produced by Lena Dunham.
- Search Party – Season three and four of this neo-noir black comedy are confirmed.
- Gossip Girl – A ten-episode reboot featuring a new generation, but narrated by Kristin Bell.
- More Happy Than Not – Based on Adam Silvera's bestselling YA novel.
- Legendary – Unscripted voguing series hosted by Jameela Jamil.
- The Greatest Space – Unscripted design-competition show.
- The Gilded Age – Series set in 1885 New York from Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes.
- House of the Dragon – A prequel to Game of Thrones centered on House Targaryen.
- I Know This Much Is True – Drama about twins starring Mark Ruffalo and John Lithgow.
- Looney Tunes Cartoons – A new cartoon series featuring the classic characters.
- Mare of Easttown – Kate Winslet plays a detective investigating a murder in Pennsylvania.
- The Nevers – A new sci-fi show from Joss Whedon.
- Perry Mason – A fresh spin on the classic legal drama show.
- The Undoing – Limited series with Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, and Donald Sutherland.
- Lovecraft Country – A horror series based on the Matt Ruff novel.
- The Plot Against America – An alternate history based on the Philip Roth novel starring Winona Ryder and John Turturro.
Also confirmed are new seasons of Succession, The Righteous Gemstones, Barry, Pretty Little Liars, The New Pope, and others.
HBO Max naturally offers every show currently on HBO and in its back catalog. That means shows like Westworld, The Sopranos, The Outsider, Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley, Watchmen, Sesame Street, and The Wire.
Cartoon fans will be well served with classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons like The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, Popeye and The Jetsons appearing on HBO Max. The full library of classic Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons are also available at launch.
And, to sweeten the deal further, popular shows like Friends, Rick & Morty, The OC, The Big Bang Theory, South Park, Doctor Who, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and The West Wing have been licensed for the new service.
What movies will be on HBO Max?
There are plans for between five and 10 original movies on HBO Max each year. Here are a few we know about so far:
- Super Intelligence – A comedy starring Melissa McCarthy.
- Let Them All Talk – Starring Meryl Streep, Dianne Wiest, and Candice Bergen and directed by Steven Soderbergh.
- Bobbie Sue – Starring Gina Rodriguez as a young lawyer grappling with a big case.
- Bad Education – Dark comedy set in a school with Hugh Jackman, Ray Romano, and Allison Janey.
- Unpregnant – Based on the YA novel about two teenage girls on a road trip to Mexico.
HBO Max subscribers will also get access to all of HBO’s documentaries and original films, as well as documentaries from CNN. Movie fans will have plenty of other options to get excited about, too: HBO Max will have The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings films, the Lego movies, the Matrix trilogy, all the MonsterVerse movies (including Godzilla and King Kong), DC films including Joker and every Batman and Superman movie, and classics like Citizen Kane, Casablanca, The Shining, and many others.
HBO Max has also managed to secure Studio Ghibli’s complete movie collection, which includes Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Howl's Moving Castle. There will be more Japanese anime courtesy of Crunchyroll.
In addition, you can find classic and modern titles like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Boogie Nights, The Lego Movie 2, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, When Harry Met Sally, Se7en, The Matrix, Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, Us, Dirty Dancing, Chasing Amy, and The Invisible Man.
Does HBO Max come in 4K, HDR, or multiple streams?
Even months after launch, HBO Max does not currently offer content in 4K or high dynamic range (HDR), nor does it offer Dolby Atmos support for those with high-end audio devices or soundbars.
That's a shame, as most competing services offer 4K and HDR support, including Disney+, which costs less than half the monthly subscription fee of HBO Max. However, a WarnerMedia spokesperson has confirmed the following:
"The HBO Max platform will support mobile downloads ... 4K HDR is a part of the HBO Max product roadmap but we don't have any additional information to share at this time."
Which devices do you need to watch HBO Max?
HBO Max is currently available for Android and iOS, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, select smart TVs, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 devices. You will also be able to watch HBO Max on any PC or Mac in your web browser.
Why can’t I watch HBO Max on Roku?
HBO Max is currently unavailable on either Roku or Amazon’s Fire TV. The platforms have failed to reach an agreement, though you may be able to cast HBO Max content from your mobile device to a Roku running the latest operating system.
We do expect native apps to arrive eventually, but two of the most popular streaming device makers don't have much incentive to cut a deal right away, it seems.
Should you sign up for HBO Max?
Whether you’re just ready to move beyond the familiarity of Netflix or you’re looking for a better movie selection, HBO Max offers a lot for your money. It's definitely worth checking out for a free trial, at least to see how well it works for your needs and with your devices.
The current library features all the HBO content you'd expect as well as a bunch of Criterion Collection titles, some heavy-hitting licensed series like Friends, all the Batman and DC content you can handle, some of the most beloved animation of all time courtesy of Studio Ghibli, classics like Casablanca and Citizen Kane, and all your favorite HBO shows—on one app for just $14.99 a month.
It's still lacking 4K, HDR, as well as a native Roku app, but the nice thing is, unlike cable, you can easily cancel HBO Max if it just doesn't suit your fancy or the shows you watch are out of season. It's not perfect, but it's definitely worth a try, especially if you haven't caught up on HBO's catalog recently.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.