BREAKING: HBO satellite subscribers might get HBO Max for free

According to this recent report from CNBC, AT&T’s John Stankey has confirmed that some existing HBO customers, such as those who get the service from AT&T and DIRECTV, will automatically get HBO Max for free when it launches. The article specifically mentioned AT&T wireless customers but it’s possible it applies to DIRECTV satellite customers as well.

This is huge.

It could close one of the big loopholes, and answers a very important questions for people who already enjoy HBO. If you’re paying for HBO service through AT&T you won’t have to pay twice just to get the content that will only be available on HBO Max.

Now, Mr. Stankey didn’t say if this was a temporary or permanent arrangement. This could simply be a way for the company to start moving people from pay-TV-provided HBO to streaming HBO and it even seems like he says that lower in the article. However I think it’s very unlikely that traditional HBO would go away, since it’s very popular in commercial settings.

What does this mean for HBO GO and HBO NOW?

That’s a good question right? It seems like those two apps wouldn’t be really necessary if you have HBO MAX. I think we’ll know more in the coming months but I wouldn’t be surprised if one or both of them simply morphed into HBO Max, the same way the DIRECTV NOW app became AT&T TV Now. I don’t know if this means that you’ll have to uninstall one and install another, but it may be as simple as waiting for an app update. It’s hard to know right now.

When will we know more?

Next week, on October 29, AT&T will hold “Warner Media Day” where they will give details of HBO Max and other Warner projects. This is, in many ways, like DIRECTV’s old “Investor Day.” I’m sure TimeWarner held similar types of events when they were an independent company as well. Media companies like to spend time showing and promoting their latest ventures.

It comes as a welcome change from AT&T’s standard practice, which tends to favor financial results over exciting presentations. While that probably is the right choice for a room full of suits, it doesn’t do a lot for bloggers like me who are looking to be excited about what’s coming up.

Guesses for the future?

It wouldn’t be real smart to make guesses, but I always do so here goes. I predict that HBO NOW and HBO GO will “just turn into” HBO Max. If you have HBO NOW you will keep paying, and if you have HBO GO you will keep logging in with your TV provider. I would then expect nothing to change for 12-18 months; if you’re paying now you keep paying. If you’re not you don’t. But at some point this will become an extra-cost addin for some people.

I predict that DIRECTV subscribers will keep getting HBO Max at no additional charge but that perhaps other companies will be asked to pay more if their customers want to get HBO Max at no extra charge. If that company (like Comcast or whatever) doesn’t pay, you’ll have the option of adding HBO Max for a small fee like $4.99/month on top of your cable subscription.

Of course I’m wrong a lot… and this could be one of those times. We’ll see next week. But for now, enjoy the good news.