HBO Max, the HBO-anchored streaming service packed with extra shows and movies, launched Wednesday after months of hype. Its arrival brings a complexity of answers to some pretty simple questions: How much will it cost me? Where can I stream it?
Like rivals Netflix and Disney Plus, HBO Max has a sprawling catalog of hit shows and classic movies, plus a big-budget slate of exclusive originals packed with stars. But HBO Max is the most expensive of the bunch. New subscribers can sign up and pay a simple $15 a month subscription. There’s also a free seven-day trial for anyone looking to give it a shot before they pay up, along with plans for a cheaper, ad-supported version of HBO Max set to launch sometime in 2021.
To entice you to give it a try, HBO Max has padded itself with more content than you’ll find on either the regular HBO channel or HBO Now. For the same price, HBO Max doubles the amount of programming you can watch. AT&T, which owns HBO as part of its WarnerMedia TV-and-film division, has been pouring billions of dollars into its budgets for original programming and into expensive deals to stream blockbuster movies from DC, Harry Potter, Studio Ghibli and the Criterion Collection as well as popular shows like Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Rick and Morty, Doctor Who and new episodes of Adventure Time.
WarnerMedia’s streaming options have grown… complicated, to say the least, with the addition of HBO Max. Here’s how things break down across all the various services:
HBO: the premium, paid cable TV channel. Purchased through your TV provider as an add-on to your existing TV package, costs vary by subscriber.
HBO Go: the online streaming app and website that lets you access HBO content if you pay for the HBO channel. Included free with HBO (the cable TV channel).
HBO Now: the standalone streaming service that costs $14.99 per month that lets people who don’t pay for cable get access to HBO. Offers the same content that HBO Go does, although they’re different apps across all platforms. In theory, HBO Now should be obsolete with the introduction of HBO Max, although that’s not quite the case yet.
HBO Max: The new WarnerMedia service that combines the existing HBO Go / Now library all of HBO with additional content, including Warner Bros. blockbusters, popular TV shows like Friends, Cartoon Network shows, classic films, Studio Ghibli titles, and new, exclusive originals.
Right now, HBO Max is only available in the United States at launch, but WarnerMedia is looking to expand the service internationally including Latin America and Europe in the future.
HBO Max is available on Android, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Samsung smart TV platforms (from 2016 and onward — in fact, the “new” app is actually just an update to the existing HBO Now apps on those platforms). There’s also a desktop web player for streaming on Mac, Windows, and Chromebook devices.
Notably missing from that list: Amazon’s Fire TV and Roku, neither of which can access HBO Max. (Both platforms do offer HBO Now apps, but they haven’t been updated to HBO Max and can’t access the additional content).
HBO Max can be signed up for in a variety of ways: customers can go to HBO Max’s website and subscribe directly through WarnerMedia.