I WAS RIGHT: AT&T Announces HBO Max

Just days after I speculated, AT&T announced that their new streaming service will be called HBO Max. The new service will have exclusives on every episode of Friends, plus fan favorites like Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Pretty Little Liars. There’s also a massive slate of original programming coming. Take a look at this excerpt from their press release:

HBO Max Original series previously announced include:

  •  “Dune: The Sisterhood,” an adaptation of Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson’s book based in the world created by Frank Herbert’s book Dune, from director Denis Villeneuve
  • “Tokyo Vice,” based on Jake Adelstein’s non-fiction first-hand account of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police beat starring Ansel Elgort
  • “The Flight Attendant,” a one-hour thriller series based on the novel by Chris Bohjalian, which will star Kaley Cuoco, who is also executive producing alongside Greg Berlanti
  • “Love Life,” a 10-episode half-hour romantic comedy anthology series starring “Pitch Perfect” star Anna Kendrick, who will also executive produce alongside Paul Feig
  • “Station Eleven, a postapocalyptic limited series based on Emily St. John Mandel’s international bestseller, adapted by Patrick Somervilleand directed by Hiro Murai
  • “Made for Love,” a 10-episode, half-hour, straight-to-series adaptation based on the tragicomic novel of the same name by Alissa Nutting, also from Somerville and directed by S.J. Clarkson
  • “Gremlins,” an animated series from Warner Bros. Animation and Amblin Entertainment based on the original movie

Highlights of HBO programming previously announced for 2020 and 2021 include:

  • Stephen Kings “The Outsider,” a dark mystery starring Ben Mendelsohn, produced and directed by Jason Bateman
  • “Lovecraft Country,” a unique horror series based on a novel by Matt Ruff, written and executive produced by Misha Green, and executive produced by Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams
  • “The Nevers,” Joss Whedon’s new science fiction series starring Laura Donnelly
  • “The Gilded Age,” the opulent world of 1885 New York from “Downton Abbey’s” Julian Fellowes
  • “Avenue 5,” high satire aboard a space-bound cruise ship fromArmando Iannucci (“Veep”), starring Hugh Laurie and Josh Gad
  • “The Undoing, a psychological thriller from David E. Kelley, directed by Susanne Bier starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant
  • “The Plot Against America,” reimagined history based on Phillip Roth’s novel written and executive produced by David Simon and Ed Burns,starring Winona Ryder and John Turturro
  • “Perry Mason,” the classic legal drama for a new generation, executive produced by Robert Downey, Jr. and Susan Downey, with Matthew Rhys in the title role
  • “I Know This Much Is True,” a complex family drama starring Mark Ruffalo playing twin brothers, one of whom has schizophrenia, based on the best-selling novel by Wally Lamb, written and directed by Derek Cianfrance.

There’s a lot of premium content there. The press release also says that the service will have about 10,000 hours of content at launch time. This means we’ll probably see HBO content, Cinemax content, as well as other Warner Brothers movies and shows.

The path for satellite subscribers

What’s not clear yet is whether or not there will be a smooth path for satellite subscribers. Right now, Warner content on streaming apps is available for free with a satellite subscription. It’s not clear if those streaming apps will go away, if there will be a discounted path for people who do have those subscriptions, or if satellite TV customers will have to pay the full rate to get all the HBO Max content.

It’s also not clear how much of the premium content being announced will be exclusive to HBO Max. The press release does say “previously announced content for HBO” and we have to assume the other stuff is the exclusive stuff.

Right now it’s hard to know all the details, but at least we have a name. We also have some idea that this will be AT&T’s top-of-the-line streaming service. It won’t be the most expensive service in the company’s portfolio. Obviously that’s DIRECTV NOW, which is one of two services that provide live linear programming.

All I can say is, it’s going to be interesting. Disney better watch out.