One of the bigger media launches in 2020 has got to be HBO Max. On one hand it's HBO. But on the other hand, it's so much more.
HBO Max takes some of the biggest brands under the WarnerMedia umbrella and unite their content in one package, available pretty much everywhere you can find HBO. (Which is, to say, everywhere.) The new service — which includes the legacy HBO content in addition to all kinds of shows from across the larger WarnerMedia world — went live on May 27. It's be available pretty much everywhere the existing HBO service is available, and cost exactly the same.
Two major caveats, though: As it stands today, you still can't watch HBO Max directly on Roku or on an Amazon Fire TV device. That's nobody's fault but the three company's involved — as usually it comes down to money. And HBO has said that it has apps ready to go just as soon as an agreement is reached.
Here's everything you need to know about the new HBO Max.
To the Max
It's not just HBO — it's HBO Max
Think of HBO Max this way: It's the best of HBO (as in all of it), plus more from the greater WarnerMedia empire, with content from TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network, TCM and more!
What's the latest on HBO Max?
June 18, 2020: The first Justice League Snyder Cut teaser
They're going to drag this out, aren't they. While the Synder Cut of Justice League won't be on HBO Max until 2021, we've got our first teaser of the re-edited film.
June 11, 2020: Love Life renewed for a second season
Good news for everyone who loved Love Life — it'll be back for a second season. But it won't feature Anna Kendrick's Darby as the central character.
May 29, 2020: The final seven episodes of Love Life will stream early
HBO Max says its viewers love Anna Kendrick so much in Love Life — one of the six new original shows available on HBO Max at launch — that they're making the final seven episodes available ahead of schedule.
May 26, 2020: The Snyder Cut of Justice League won't come cheap
How much does it cost to re-edit a movie? In the case of the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut version of Justice League, it's going to be more than $30 million, according to WarnerMedia's Bob Greenblatt.
May 22, 2020: The complete June lineup for HBO Max
Here's a list of everything that's on HBO Max (and the legacy HBO) in June 2020, the first full month of the service.
May 21, 2020: Chelsea Handler is coming back to standup
HBO Max has announced that comedian Chelsea Handler will have an hourlong special on HBO Max. It didn't announce when to expect it, though.
May 20, 2020: More partners will move customers to HBO Max
Some of the largest cable providers — including Cox, Verizon Fios and Altice — will give their current HBO customers HBO Max for free.
May 13, 2020: The second wave of HBO Max originals
HBO Max has announced the second wave of original content, which will start to hit subscribers on June 18 and continue throughout the summer.
May 1, 2020: HBO Max has a pre-order discount
April 27, 2020: HBO Max will still play nice with Apple devices
If you're a current HBO Now subscriber on your Apple device, you'll be upgraded to HBO Max for free once it launches on May 27.
April 21, 2020: HBO Max will launch on May 27!
Now we have an actual date. HBO Max will launch on May 27, bringing with it more than 10,000 hours of content, much of it new to the platform.
April 15, 2020: Charter's HBO customers get Max for free
If you're a current HBO subscriber on the Charter cable system, you'll be getting access to HBO Max for free.
Feb. 20, 2020: HBO Max is coming to YouTube TV as an add-on
HBO is the major premium add-on that's been missing from YouTube TV. But the companies have announced that it'll be available once the service launches, and you can pay for it all through your Google account.
Oct. 29, 2019: We now know the price for HBO Max
It'll cost you $14.99 a month — the same as HBO today.
What's the difference between HBO and HBO Max?
It's kind of a weird time for HBO. On one hand, there's the legacy HBO, same as it ever ways. Incredible original content paired alongside the best of Hollywood. And now there's HBO Max. Both will exist side by side. But make no mistake, WarnerMedia (the parent company of HBO) wants you on HBO Max.
What's better about HBO Max? It has everything that's on HBO, plus movies and shows from many of WarnerMedia's other brands, such as TBS, TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, selected shows from Turner Classic Movies, and more.
How much does HBO Max cost?
Both HBO and HBO Max cost $14.99 a month. So there's really no reason to remain on the legacy HBO.
And that price is good whether you pay HBO directly, or through a third party such as Apple TV Channels or Amazon Prime Video Channels or YouTube TV or whomever.
Can I get HBO Max for free?
Some folks will, yes. And we're not just talking about a free "upgrade" for those who are currently paying for the legacy HBO. Some people will get HBO Max without paying an additional dime.
So how can you get HBO Max for free? We've got a full breakdown here, but the short version is if you're paying AT&T money for wireless service, for home internet, or one of its other video services, there's a good chance you can get. HBO Max for no extra charge. And some cable system like Charter also are giving customers HBO Max for free.
What all is on HBO Max?
Like we said, HBO Max is HBO, and then some. It'll have new movies every month, of course, as well as all the HBO originals you've come to know and love, like Westworld, Last Week Tonight and Insecure. But there are new HBO Max originals on the way as well.
At launch on May 27, you'll be able to watch these new shows:
- Love Life
- Looney Tunes Cartoons
- The Not Too Late Show With Elmo
- On The Record
And more originals are on the way throughout 2020, including:
- The Flight Attendant, staring (and executive-produced) by Kaley Cuoco
- The Friends unscripted cast reunion
- A new season of Search Party
- Expecting Amy, which follows comedian Amy Schumer during her pregnancy
- Sci-Fi series Raised by Wolves, from director Ridley Scott
- Comedy series Close Enough
- And the long-awaited Adventure Time: Distant Lands — BMO, the first of four Adventure Time specials.
And then there are all the shows that you'll find from all the other WarnerMedia networks coming to HBO Max.
How can I watch HBO Max?
If you can watch HBO Now, you can watch HBO Max. That's true for your phone and tablet, streaming devices like Roku, Apple TV, Android TV and more. That's true for your web browser. Basically you can watch HBO Max on any modern device. And if you're a current HBO Now subscriber, you'll automatically have access to. HBO Max.
Here's the full list of supported devices:
- iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch with iOS 12.2 or newer
- Android phones and tablets with Android 5 or newer
- PC running Windows 7 or newer
- Mac with macOS 10.10 (Yosemite) or newer
- Google Chromebooks
- A web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari)
- Android TV
- Apple TV (4th generation or newer)
- PlayStation 4
- Select Samsung Smart TVs
- Xbox One
What bitrate does HBO Max stream at?
One of the big questions folks had about HBO Max was whether streaming quality was going to be better than what we've experienced on HBO Now. The short version was that you could get a better picture quality watching through Amazon Prime Video than you could through HBO's own standalone apps.
We're happy to report that, as promised, bitrate is about twice as good on the standalone HBO Max app than it was on HBO Now. We've been seeing an average bitrate of 10 Mbps or more.
That still doesn't change the fact that HBO Max isn't yet available in 4K (nor will it do much to make older content look better), but it's definitely an improvement over the previous incarnation.
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