It’s been over six months since HBO announced HBO Max. Probably the most interesting thing to say about that, is that there’s been very little information since the fall. HBO Max is still scheduled for a May launch as I write this, and we have some idea of the programming that will be on it. But, there are still a lot of unanswered questions.
Will HBO Max be free for DIRECTV subscribers?
Here’s one I think we’re all asking. Last fall, AT&T executives said that some people will get HBO Max for free. The answer seemed deliberately vague, though. The company’s official messaging says that HBO NOW subscribers will get HBO Max for free, as long as they’re currently paying AT&T directly for it. In case you’d forgotten, HBO NOW is the identical twin to HBO GO. You pay for it directly instead of using your satellite subscription.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense for AT&T to continue HBO GO if they are rolling out HBO Max. I am personally hoping that what we’re seeing is just a focus on streaming consistent with other messages from the company.
Will Cinemax just “go away?”
Again, there’s been some shifty language here. Cinemax really never 100% jumped into the streaming space. The MaxGO app languished until it was actually on the verge of being incompatible with modern smartphone OS’s. There are ways you can pay to stream Cinemax, but you can’t pay AT&T directly and get it on a streaming box.
It looks like all Cinemax original content is either being routed to HBO Max or canceled altogether. However, this doesn’t mean the service is going away. I’m going to guess that it continues on pay-TV for the long run. As far as the movies and content that’s on there, I think it’s likely that HBO Max will carry them. Most of what’s on Cinemax now is stuff that was on HBO a while back. So that would be pretty easy.
Will HBO Max exclusives make their way to pay TV?
Again, we have more questions than answers here, but there are some hints. It’s not likely that the HBO Max exclusive content will make it to HBO. However, AT&T seems to want to use the DIRECTV Audience Network as a way to get people to subscribe to HBO Max. This probably means showing limited previews of some content on that channel for free.
You may remember the Audience Network as the old DIRECTV Channel 101, one of the first pay-TV original programming channels. It’s sort of been in limbo for the last couple of years since AT&T now has an immense number of original content outlets available.
Will HBO Max have anything “live?”
This is an interesting question. HBO itself launched originally as a way to get live sports to people. HBO Max seems to be the latest and greatest incarnation, but will it carry the sporting events that HBO carries? Despite a lot of that having moved to pay-per-view over the years, there are still live sports on HBO. I don’t know if HBO Max is being designed to carry those events, or if the company would rather move live sports to another avenue, perhaps direct-billed pay-per-view over streaming.
So, more questions than answers
With the launch of HBO Max just about a month away, we’ll start getting these answers soon, no question about that. I expect the media previews to be available in about three weeks and if I get something that they let me post, I’ll put it up here.