Update: February 21, 2020: We have updated this article with news that HBO Max will be the home for a new Friends reunion special. All of the cast members will get together for the unscripted special and it will be available when the service launches in May.
The success of Netflix and other premium video streaming services over the past several years has shaken up the entire entertainment industry. For a while, the major Hollywood studios were more than happy to license their movie and TV properties to these services. Now that has changed, as those streaming services are now creating their own original content that competes directly with the old school studios.
As a result, studios like Disney and NBCUniversal have launched or will launch, their own streaming services. They are planning to take back their back catalog of films and TV series with them. That’s also what’s happening with WarnerMedia, the AT&T-owned entertainment group that operates, among many other things, HBO, Warner Bros, and CNN. Recently, the conglomerate announced its own upcoming dedicated streaming service, HBO Max.
Before HBO Max launches, here’s what we know at the moment about this streaming service.
What is HBO Max?
HBO Max is the name for the upcoming streaming service from WarnerMedia. In a press release announcing the name of the service, WarnerMedia said that subscribers will be able to access 10,000 hours of content when HBO Max launches. Even more content will be added in the months and years to come.
How is it different from HBO Now?
HBO Now is the current streaming service from WarnerMedia. It offers access to all of the premium cable network’s current movies, along with current and past original HBO shows, without the need for a cable TV service. At the moment, WarnerMedia has not revealed if HBO Max will serve as a replacement for HBO Now, or if the current HBO Now will stick around as a lower-price tier for the new service. Hopefully, we will get some clarity on this situation in the near future.
When will HBO Max launch?
WarnerMedia has officially said that HBO Max will launch sometime in May 2020. An exact date has yet to be revealed.
Platforms for the service
At the moment, the only platform that WarnerMedia has confirmed for HBO Max is the internet-based TV service YouTube TV. We will update this post when more platform info is revealed.
What will it cost to sign up?
HBO Max will cost $14.99 a month. That’s also the same price WarnerMedia is charging for the current HBO Now service. That means those users will get all of HBO’s content, plus a ton of extra TV shows and movies, with no price increase. The service will be ad-free, although some reports have indicated that WarnerMedia might launch an ad-supported version of HBO Max at some point after the official launch in 2020. If that happens, it’s likely the cost to sign up will be much less.
Will current HBO and Now subscribers get HBO Max for free?
Some will, and some may not. HBO Now subscribers who have signed up directly from HBO will get HBO Max at no extra cost. Some AT&T smartphone customers with unlimited data plans may get HBO Max for free as well. If you have signed up for HBO Now directly via WarnerMedia, HBO Max will be free as well.
However, if you signed up for HBO Now via a third-party, such as Apple TV or Amazon Prime Video, you won’t get HBO Max for free. If you have a standard HBO cable subscription through a non-AT&T provider, there’s more bad news. You also won’t get free access to HBO Max.
Is Friends really going to leave Netflix for HBO Max?
The short answer is yes. Friends, the hit 1990s sitcom about six friends who work, live, and love in New York City, remains one of the most popular TV shows. Netflix bought the rights to all 10 seasons of the show from its owner Warner Bros to stream on its service, beginning in 2015. However, WarnerMedia is taking back those streaming rights for Friends. The show has left Netflix already but will be back via HBO Max when it launches.
Is there really going to be a Friends reunion special on HBO Max?
Yes. Deadline reports that all six cast members, along with the original creators of the show, will reunite for an unscripted Friends special that will be shown exclusively on HBO Max. This won’t be an actual episode of the show. The cast and creators will be getting together on the original stage, but as themselves. They will likely talk about their time on the show and offer up some behind-the-scenes secrets. This will be the first time all six cast members will get together in one place for a filmed special (and they will all reportedly get paid a ton of money for it).
The Friends special will be available the first day of the launch of HBO Max, and will help promote the fact that all the show’s seasons will be available to stream on the service.
HBO Max will be the new streaming home for The Big Bang Theory
HBO Max will also be the exclusive streaming home for one of the biggest recent sitcoms, The Big Bang Theory. All 12 seasons and 279 episodes of the show that centers on a group of geeky scientists will finally become available all at once on HBO Max when it launches. The Hollywood Reporter states that the deal will last for five years, and it cost hundreds of millions of dollars for HBO Max to secure the rights to the show.
The Doctor Who reboot is also coming to HBO Max
HBO Max has also snapped up the US streaming rights to a number of BBC shows, including all 11 seasons of the rebooted Doctor Who series that began in 2005. Previously, the US streaming rights to the new Doctor Who show were claimed by Amazon Prime Video. The classic Doctor Who series will continue to be available for streaming via BritBox. The upcoming Season 12 of Doctor Who will be shown first on the BBC America cable channel in 2020, but will be available for streaming via HBO Max after its cable TV run.
Other BBC shows that will be available on HBO Max will include the original UK version of The Office. You will also see past seasons of Top Gear, Luther, and The Honorable Woman on HBO Max.
Sesame Street is moving to HBO Max
In the near future, the answer to the question, “Can you tell me how to get . . . how to get to Sesame Street” will be, “HBO Max”. The Hollywood Reporter states the long-running children’s show, now in its 50th season, will move from HBO to the HBO Max streaming service. It will begin in 2020 for the start of the show’s 51st season and will last for at least 5 years. The deal also includes a number of new spin-off shows and specials, plus the entire 50 previous seasons as library content. New episodes of Sesame Street will continue to be shown on the PBS broadcast network several months after they first go live on HBO Max.
South Park is moving to the service
South Park, the hit animated comedy about four kids from South Park, Colorado, are moving from their current home on Hulu. HBO Max will offer the entire 23 seasons on the service and will show the three upcoming seasons as well. It will go live on the service sometime soon after its launch.
What other shows and movies will be on HBO Max?
HBO Max will be the new streaming home for shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Rick and Morty, Pretty Little Liars, and The West Wing. Also, the new shows that premiered on The CW network in the fall of 2019, like Batwoman and Katy Keene, will be streamed on the service.
HBO Max will also be the home for all current and upcoming HBO original series and movies. HBO Max will offer subscribers a ton of content from its other movie and TV networks. That includes movies from Warner Bros and New Line, along with content from DC Entertainment, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, The CW, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, and Looney Tunes.
Specific movies on the service will include all of the Superman and Batman feature films. Also, fantasy fans can watch all of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films. Sci-fi fans can watch the entire Matrix film trilogy as well.
If you love classic children’s animated movies that were not made by Disney, check out HBO Max. It will have the full library of the films from Japan-based Studio Ghibli. That includes titles like Howl’s Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away.
What original scripted shows will be on HBO Max?
HBO Max will have its own range of exclusive original TV shows. They will be known as Max Originals. You can expect to see least 31 series ready for the first year of the launch. Here’s what has been announced for HBO Max so far:
- Dune: The Sisterhood: Based on the classic Dune sci-fi novels, this 10-part series will focus on the Bene Gesserit group of women in this universe.
- Tokyo Vice: This series will star Baby Driver actor Ansel Elgort and centers on the Tokyo Metropolitan Police.
- The Flight Attendant: The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco will star as a flight attendant who wakes up in a Dubai hotel room next to a dead body.
- Love Life: This will be a half-hour romantic comedy series starring Anna Kendrick.
- Station Eleven: This series will deal with the world after most of the population is killed in a pandemic.
- Made for Love: This series will be about a woman who is trying to get away from her husband. He’s a tech CEO who is obsessed with finding her so she can be forced to link with him via brain chips.
- Americanah: This limited series will focus on a young Nigerian woman who moves to the U.S. It will star Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o.
- Circe: A limited series, based on the novel, that centers on the Greek mythological god Circe.
- Raised by Wolves – This will be a sci-fi series directed by Ridley Scott.
What original DC Comics-based shows will be on the service?
HBO Max will have a number of shows based on DC Comics properties. They will include:
- DMZ: Based on the DC Vertigo comic, this series will depict a second US Civil War in the near future.
- DC Super Hero High – A comedy series that will depict classic DC superheroes in high school.
- Strange Adventures – This will be a series centering on the space-based hero Adam Strange.
- Green Lantern – This will be an adaptation of one of DC’s oldest and most popular superheroes.
In addition, HBO Max will also show the second season of the acclaimed series Doom Patrol, which first started on the DC Universe service.
What original scripted movies will be on HBO Max?
HBO Max will also have a number of original movies that will make their debut for the service. Here’s what’s lined up so far:
- UNpregnant – A film based on the acclaimed YA novel, about a 17-year old girl who has to deal with an unwanted pregnancy.
- Let Them All Talk – This drama about a trip with a group of friends will star Meryl Streep and will be directed by Steven Soderbergh.
- Superintelligence – This is a comedy that will star Melissa McCarthy as a woman who is being observed by a newly birthed AI persona.
What else is being created just for the service?
Actor Reese Witherspoon will produce at least two more movies for the service. Ellen DeGeneres’s production company has signed on with HBO Max to produce four shows for the service. They will include an animated series, Little Ellen, and three nonscripted shows: Ellen’s Home Design Challenge, First Dates Hotel, and Finding Einstein.
What reboots will be on HBO Max?
HBO Max will also be the home for at least a few reboots of older shows and movies:
- Gremlins – The Animated Series: The mischievous and destructive creatures from the two Gremlins feature films will return as an animated series on HBO Max.
- Gossip Girl: A reboot of the CW series, which again will center on rich teenagers who attend New York City private schools.
- The Boondocks – This will be a revival of the acclaimed animated series. Also, the original Boondocks show will be streamed on HBO Max.
- Grease – Rydell High: A musical TV show based on the classic 1950s teenager-themed Broadway and movie musical. It will feature both original characters as well as new ones.
- Adventure Time – The acclaimed TV cartoon series returns with four hour-long specials on HBO Max. The first two specials debut in 2020 on the service.
- Looney Tunes – In addition to the classic Warner Bros cartoon shorts, HBO Max will be the home to 80 new 11 minute shorts featuring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and more.
What nonscripted shows will be on the service?
HBO Max will also have a number of nonscripted shows. They include:
- Legendary: A competition series from the team behind Queer Guy. It will focus on teams of people who will take part in voguing battles.
- The Greatest Space: Another competition series that pits interior designers against one another.
- Karma: A competition show for kids age 12 to 15 who solve puzzle and complete challenges while being completely off the grid.
- Craftopedia: Kids age 9 to 15 will compete in crafting challenges in this series.
HBO Max will also feature live sports events at some point, but not in time for the launch of the service. News programming will also be a part of the streaming service in the future as well.
What other features will HBO Max have?
The service will include specific user profiles so that each member of a family will have their own lineup of preferred TV shows and movies. In addition, there will also be joint profiles so that a parent can watch the same content as their kids. There will also be curated recommended lists of HBO Max shows and movies from famous actors, directors and more.
HBO Max: Is it worth it?
For HBO Now subscribers, HBO Max should be a no brainer. It will likely cost just a couple of dollars more per month to access much more content. For everyone else, the likely high price of HBO Max may keep it from gaining a huge amount of subscribers. There’s no doubt that Friends fanatics will jump onto the new service. The addition of The Big Bang Theory and Sesame Street will also be a huge incentive. However, HBO Max will need to make sure its original series are of very high quality. That should bring in enough new subscribers so it is financially viable.