The latest streaming service to launch, is HBO MAX. Which is really just an upgraded version of a streaming service that has been around for many years.
Basically, HBO MAX takes everything that HBO has, and everything that's under the WarnerMedia umbrella and puts it into one streaming service, for the same price as regular HBO. Which makes it a really great deal, in itself.
HBO MAX launched on May 27, for a price of $14.99 per month.
What is HBO MAX?
As mentioned, HBO MAX is a new service from AT&T that combines all of the HBO originals with the entire library from WarnerMedia. You might be surprised at just how much content that WarnerMedia has under its belt.
This came from the acquisition of Time Warner a couple of years ago from AT&T. And combining it all into one service makes plenty of sense. So you're getting the entire DC collection, as well as other hit TV shows that WarnerMedia has done like The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and The Big Bang Theory, to name a couple. It also has everything from the libraries of TBS, TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, selected shows from Turner Classic Movies, and much more.
AT&T is also rolling out a ton of originals, though some were put on hold due to the pandemic, which stopped filming for a few months. Like the Friends Reunion that was supposed to be available at launch – which wasn't.
What's the difference between HBO MAX and HBO GO/NOW?
The biggest difference here is the addition of WarnerMedia content. HBO GO/NOW only features HBO content, so you're missing out on a bunch of movies and TV shows that WarnerMedia created.
HBO MAX is honestly better than HBO GO and HBO NOW, as you're getting a lot more content, at the same price. So one might wonder why HBO GO and HBO NOW still exist. Well we don't have an answer for that, but we do expect that AT&T is going to phase those out at some point and stick with just HBO MAX. As that is what AT&T wants you using anyways.
It's worth mentioning that if you do sign up for HBO MAX through your cable provider, like you could with regular HBO, you will only be able to access HBO content through their platform. You'll still need to download the app to access all of the content that is available there.
Additionally, if you have HBO NOW already, you will see the app upgrade to HBO MAX. And you're all set, you automatically get switched to the new service. If you don't, you'll need to end your subscription to HBO NOW and then sign up for HBO MAX. It's confusing, but that's the way things are right now.
What originals are available to watch?
HBO MAX launched with a number of originals. These include Craftopia, Legendary, Love Life, Looney Tunes Cartoons, The Not Too Late Show With Elmo and On The Record.
There are other originals coming throughout 2020, though the pandemic may have forced some of these to be delayed, since filming was stopped worldwide for a few months while everyone was in quarantine.
These include The Flight Attendant, The Friends Reunion, a new season of Search Party, Expecting Amy, Raised by Wolves and more.
There will be plenty more originals coming in the future too. As AT&T is investing quite a bit of money into HBO MAX and its original content, to keep users on-board.
How much does HBO MAX cost?
HBO MAX costs the same as regular HBO, which is $14.99 per month. And that right there makes it a no-brainer to switch from HBO to HBO MAX. Since you're paying the same price, for a whole lot more content.
This is the same price everywhere, whether you sign up through HBO MAX or through a third-party like your cable/TV provider like YouTube TV. There's no extra fees for not paying through HBO MAX directly.
There's only one plan for HBO MAX, unlike Netflix. So you don't get a choice to upgrade to better resolution (there's no 4K right now anyways). Nor do you get a choice to upgrade to more screens. HBO MAX gives everyone three simultaneous streams. Which is right on par with other services. Disney+ gives you four screens and Netflix gives you between one and four, depending on your plan.
Can I get it for free?
If you're an AT&T subscriber, probably.
So AT&T has laid out who will get HBO MAX for free, and it's the majority of its customers. Here's how it breaks down for different AT&T customers:
- If you have DirecTV Premier or Lo Maximo
- If you have U-Verse U400, U450 or U450 Latino
- If you have AT&T TV Choice, Xtra, Ultra or Optimo Mas plans
- If you have AT&T TV Now
- If you have DirecTV Choice, Xtra, Ultimate, Mas Ultra or Optimo Mas packages. (But you only get a year for free.)
- Other plans may get it free for one month
- If you have the AT&T Unlimited Elite wireless plan
These free HBO MAX offers range from one month to a year. So you won't be getting it for free, forever, unfortunately. But that is long enough to decide whether you want to keep it. So there's that.
How can I watch HBO MAX?
There are many ways that you can watch HBO MAX right now. It is available virtually everywhere except for Roku and Amazon Fire TV.
Here's a list of the platforms that are supported right now:
- iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch with iOS 12.2 or newer
- Android phones and tablets with Android 5 or newer
- PC running Windows 7 or newer
- Mac with macOS 10.10 (Yosemite) or newer
- Google Chromebooks
- A web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari)
- Android TV
- Apple TV (4th generation or newer)
- PlayStation 4
- Select Samsung Smart TVs
- Xbox One
As mentioned, you won't be able to watch on Roku or Fire TV. But there is a slight workaround for that, for now. You can still use Chromecast to Cast HBO MAX to your Fire TV or Roku device. It's actually really easy. Just hit the Chromecast icon in the upper-right hand corner of the screen and select the device you want to Cast to, and you're all set.
There's no word on when it will officially launch on either Roku or Fire TV, but it likely won't be long. Seeing as those are the two largest platforms for streaming TV right now. AT&T is likely to strike a deal with both companies rather soon.
There are a few other things that service is missing right now. Including 4K HDR, and Dolby Vision. WarnerMedia says that those are on the roadmap, so we should see them coming to the service in the near future. But those weren't a priority for launching the service by May 27.
How is this different from AT&T's many other streaming services?
AT&T has a lot of streaming services. And we mean a lot.
Most companies have one, maybe two services, but AT&T had at one point, seven. Now they've cleared out some, but there's still quite a few. There's AT&T TV, AT&T TV NOW, AT&T Watch TV and now HBO MAX.
The first three are mostly TV services. AT&T TV is very similar to a cable pay-TV service, but instead of needing a cable box, it's done over the internet. AT&T still offers a box for everyone to use – it's based on Android TV. But it's most similar to u-Verse TV.
Then there is AT&T TV NOW, which is very similar in name and practice. Instead of needing that Android TV box, you can stream on any device. It's very similar to YouTube TV. And it is the replacement to DIRECTV NOW.
Then there is AT&T Watch TV which is the skinny bundle, this costs just $15 per month for 35 live channels. And it does come in free with many AT&T wireless plans.
HBO MAX isn't so much a live streaming service, but just a streaming TV service. It's a service where you'll be able to binge all sorts of content.
Not confusing at all is it? (yes, that is sarcasm.)