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The streaming wars are beginning to look a lot like the packed field of Democratic presidential candidates. WarnerMedia just announced it’s launching itself into the wars with HBO Max. But what is HBO Max, exactly? Here’s everything you need to know about the streaming service.
What is HBO Max?
HBO Max is direct-to-consumer streaming service that will serve as a direct competitor to Netflix, Hulu, and all those other monthly hits to your wallet. It’s slated for a spring 2020 debut and will launch with a whopping 10,000 hours of content, including all 236 episodes of Friends (RIP Netflix fans).
Introducing the next big thing: HBO Max, our upcoming streaming service featuring exclusive originals and the best-of-the-best from the WarnerMedia portfolio. Learn more: https://t.co/MHHIkV0ohz pic.twitter.com/N9jb9FifIW— WarnerMedia (@WarnerMediaGrp) July 9, 2019
What can I watch on HBO Max?
Naturally, you’ll be able to catch all of HBO’s original series and movies on HBO Max. And, yes that includes Game of Thrones. All previously announced HBO originals slotted for 2020 and 2021 will also be available. This includes Stephen King’s The Outsider and Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams’ horror series Lovecraft Country.
Beyond that, HBO Max will also be “maximised” (their emphasis, not ours) with original programming and “the best-of-the-best” from WarnerMedia’s library of branded content. This includes a hefty list of properties, spanning the likes of Warner Bros., TNT, CNN, DC Entertainment, Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies, Rooster Teeth, and Newline.
Perhaps the biggest shake-up to streamers everywhere is the news that Friends will be available on HBO Max exclusively at the time of launch–so the show is saying goodbye to Netflix. The OG streaming giant mourned the loss on Tuesday by tweeting, “The One Where We Have To Say Goodbye. We’re sorry to see Friends go to Warner’s streaming service at the beginning of 2020 (in The U.S.) Thanks for the memories, gang.”
Netflix famously shelled out around $100 million to keep the rights to stream Friends for one year. According to the Wall Street Journal, acquiring the ’90s sitcom for a five years set WarnerMedia back a cool $425 million.
The One Where We Have To Say Goodbye.— Netflix US (@netflix) July 9, 2019
We’re sorry to see Friends go to Warner's streaming service at the beginning of 2020 (in The US). Thanks for the memories, gang ☕
Other exclusively licensed content coming to HBO Max includes the ’90s classics The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Pretty Little Liars–the latter is another snag from Netflix. It’ll also be the only place to stream all future Warner Bros.-produced CW dramas. So HBO Max will be home to all your DC Universe content like Batwoman and Riverdale-spinoff Katy Keene.
As for original HBO Max content, Riverdale’s Greg Berlanti is set to produce four young-adult movies and Reese Witherspoon’s Happy Sunshine brand is on the docket for at least two films. Previously announced “Max Originals” include an animated Gremlins series; a 10-episode romantic comedy Love Life starring Anna Kendrick; an adaption of Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson’s Dune: The Sisterhood novel; the postapocalyptic series Station Eleven; a 10-episode adaption of Alissa Nutting’s novel Made for Love; and a deep dive into Tokyo’s metropolitan police beat, Tokyo Vice, based on the nonfiction, firsthand account of Jake Adelstein.
How much will HBO Max cost?
WarnerMedia’s press release didn’t nail down a specific monthly charge, but a previous report from the Wall Street Journal claims the service will be between $16 and $17 per month.
If that turns out to be true, it would make HBO Max one of the pricier streaming services out there. Then again, HBO Now costs $14.99 per month as a standalone service, so you’d be getting an incredible amount of additional content for just a couple of bucks more.
What if I already subscribe to an HBO streaming service?
WarnerMedia didn’t mention its other similarly named services–its standalone streaming package HBO Now or the streaming add-on to its cable package HBO Go–in the press release. However, a representative later told Fast Company, “Nothing will happen with HBO Go or HBO Now. HBO Max will be a distinct offering. As a distinct offering, you would not automatically become a Max subscriber.”
HBO Max marks yet another media company exclusively streaming its own content. With The Office leaving Netflix for NBCUniversal as well as Marvel and Disney favorites migrating over to Disney+, the future of streaming is starting to look less like cable and more like a jigsaw puzzle.
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Alyse Stanley is a video game and culture reporter based in Virginia with words at Polygon and USGamer. When she’s not writing about memes, she edits Unwinnable’s monthly magazine. You can follow her on Twitter @pithyalyse.