HBO Max: The stuff you need to know

AT&T lifted the curtain on HBO Max yesterday and it looks like it’s going to be a dream service. I’ll be honest… they didn’t invite me. I was kinda hoping they would, but I guess after all these years of blogging I still don’t rate. But, I’ve combed the web to get all the details for you.

The price

We’re looking at $14.99 a month. This places it near the top but it’s not as high as Netflix’s 4K plan. Plus it looks like there are going to be ways to get it for less. Although there weren’t clear details, it still looks like AT&T/DIRECTV subscribers with HBO will get it for free. It’s also a safe bet that if you get HBO through one of AT&T’s wireless plans you will too. I wish they had been clearer on this, and just said “look, ya got HBO on DIRECTV? Ya covered.” But they didn’t. Still it sounds like we all understand what they’re saying

HBO NOW? Or is it HBO THEN?

Again, having to read between the lines a bit, but since all HBO NOW subscribers will get HBO Max for free, it looks like HBO NOW will probably be retired.

There will be a live TV bundle

Again, there were not clear details here but it looks like perhaps there will be live TV you’ll get with HBO Max. CordCuttersNews says that it will be bundled with “AT&T TV” which could mean one of a couple things. It could mean that users of AT&T’s standalone live TV streaming service (the one with the Android TV box) will get HBO Max for free. On the other hand it could mean that HBO Max will launch with channels from the AT&T Watch TV app which is free for AT&T Unlimited users.

So much content I can’t even list it.

The figure that’s going around is 10,000 hours of content at launch. Variety has a curated list. This includes not only a lot of older content like Friends and The Big Bang Theory but a huge amount of original content. Some of it is tied into previous WarnerMedia properties (like the Game of Thrones and Practical Magic prequels) while other content is all new.

You’ll also get pretty much any original program that has ever aired on HBO. In fact it’s expected that the entire library from HBO GO/HBO NOW will migrate over there, which once again leaves the future of those standalone apps in doubt.

While not surprising, you’ll also get a lot of Looney Tunes shorts which air on Prime Video right now. In fact, you should expect that pretty much any thing with a Warner Bros. name on it, from Casablanca to Pinky and the Brain, will move to HBO Max and away from other streaming sites.

It’s also clear from this slide (courtesy Engadget) that there will be a lot more focus on curating content. The caption says “Recommended by Humans” meaning will be more than just an algorithm.

It’s all coming in May ’20.

Those who were hoping for a Steve Jobs-style “it’s available NOW” reveal were disappointed, but this is consistent with the way other services are being announced now.

Overall, it seems like the details we really wanted didn’t arrive. It doesn’t matter. WarnerMedia did show off a lot of the content on the service. Not only that hey made it clear that this is soon to be the only place for content from Warner Bros. the CW, HBO, and other WarnerMedia divisions. This is going to really hurt Netflix and to a lesser extent Prime Video. Netflix has seen so much content move away from it and it’s going to see more soon. Prime Video has a massive library of stuff you won’t find elsewhere and there are other benefits to having Prime, so I’m less concerned about them.

I guess we’ll know all the details in the coming months, I’ll keep you posted.