HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s shiny new vessel into the streaming wars, is set to launch on Wednesday, May 27.
It’s regularly priced at $14.99 monthly, the same as the existing HBO Now service, but with much more: HBO Max includes everything on HBO plus hundreds of additional titles, including the complete runs of “Friends” and “The Big Bang Theory”; more than 2,000 movies; and Max Originals “Love Life,” “On the Record,” “Legendary,” “Craftopia,” “Looney Tunes” and “The Not Too Late Show with Elmo.”
So how will you be able to access to HBO Max?
First off, it’s initially available only in the U.S. The AT&T-owned media company has inked a dozen distribution deals — but as of this writing, it has not secured pacts with three biggies: Comcast, Roku and Amazon Fire TV. That means customers who subscribe to HBO through Comcast Xfinity TV, the Roku Channel or Amazon Prime Video Channels do not have access to HBO Max. (WarnerMedia also doesn’t have a deal with Dish Network/Sling TV, which hasn’t carried HBO since November 2018.)
[UPDATE, 5/27, 10 a.m. PT: After the HBO Max launch, Comcast and WarnerMedia announced a deal to bring the streaming service to Xfinity X1 and Flex subscribers.]
For the distribution deals WarnerMedia has signed, existing subscribers of HBO on each platform (for the most part) will receive automatic access to HBO Max. Out of the gate, though, to get access to HBO Max, those subscribers will need to download the HBO Max app on one of the supported platforms (i.e., the content won’t be integrated into program guides on pay-TV providers). At that point, they will need to log in using their existing HBO Now/HBO Go credentials.
HBO Max’s launch partners currently include: AT&T, which is offering various bundling and free-trial offers; Apple; Google/YouTube TV; Hulu; Charter; Samsung; Altice USA; Cox; Verizon; Microsoft’s Xbox One; Sony’s PlayStation 4; and the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC), a consortium of smaller cable operators.
Note that HBO Now is not going away just yet on all platforms (it’s still available on Roku and Fire TV, for example), given that WarnerMedia does not have deals with all current distributors. Similarly, the HBO Go streaming service for customers of pay-TV affiliates will remain (i.e. for Comcast subscribers).
Here are the details for each way to access and/or sign up for HBO Max:
Direct Subscription: Sign up directly on hbomax.com. Leading up to the launch, HBO Max is available to preorder for a 20% discount of $11.99 per month for new or returning HBO Now customers who sign up by May 27 at 2:59 a.m. ET.
Apple: At launch, customers will be able to access HBO Max on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple TV 4th generation and later (Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K) devices; users with 2nd- and 3rd-generation Apple TV models can stream HBO Max content from their iPhone or iPad to their TV with AirPlay. Existing HBO Now customers who are billed through the App Store and HBO subscribers through Apple TV channels can log in and access the HBO Max app at no additional charge. New HBO Max customers will be able to subscribe directly in the app using in-app purchase. In addition, HBO Max content will be integrated within the Apple TV app, letting users search for HBO Max series and movies using Siri and universal search.
- Video customers
- Bundled for no extra charge with DirecTV Premier and Lo Maximo; U-Verse U400, U450, and U450 Latino; AT&T TV Now Max packages; and a new AT&T TV Premier package coming soon
- One year free for new AT&T TV Choice, Xtra, Ultimate, and Óptimo Más customers and new DirecTV Choice, Xtra, Ultimate, Más Ultra or Óptimo Más customers
- Three months free for existing customers of many other AT&T video packages (excluding lowest-tier plans such as DirecTV Family, UFamily, U-Basic, and AT&T TV Now Plus)
- Wireless customers
- Bundled for no extra charge with AT&T Unlimited Elite wireless plan (which already included HBO)
- One month free for new and existing customers on AT&T Unlimited Extra, AT&T Unlimited Starter and AT&T Mobile Share plans
- Internet customers
- Bundled for no extra charge with the AT&T Internet 1000 plan (with advertised speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second)
- One month free for other AT&T internet plans
Hulu: Most existing HBO subscribers on Hulu will be automatically upgraded to HBO Max for no additional cost. However, some Hulu customers with HBO who are billed through a third-party may not be eligible for HBO Max. Eligible new and existing Hulu subscribers will be able to purchase HBO Max directly through Hulu with any package. To access the extra HBO Max content, Hulu users will need to use the HBO Max app and sign in using their Hulu login credentials.
Google: Current HBO Now subscribers with the Android app billed through Google Play will be automatically upgraded to HBO Max app at no additional charge. New HBO Max customers will be able to subscribe directly from Google.
YouTube TV: HBO Max will be available as an add-on to YouTube TV customers at launch; users must log in separately to an HBO Max app on a supported platform.
Charter: All of Charter’s existing HBO subscribers, including subscribers in its Spectrum Silver and Gold video packages, will automatically be given access to HBO Max for no additional charge. All remaining and new customers will be able to purchase HBO Max directly from Charter.
Samsung: Owners of Samsung smart TVs – models from 2016 through 2020 – will be able to download and purchase HBO Max directly.
Altice USA: All existing Optimum and Suddenlink HBO and HBO Now subscribers will have immediate access to HBO Max in addition to their existing HBO linear and on demand services and at no extra cost. Customers will be able to access HBO Max by downloading the app or accessing it on desktop and logging in using their Altice One, Optimum or Suddenlink credentials. Altice’s remaining and new customers will be able to purchase HBO Max directly from the cable operator.
Cox Communications: All of Contour’s existing HBO subscribers will have immediate access to HBO Max at launch and at no extra cost, in addition to their existing HBO linear and on demand services. Customers will be able to log into the HBO Max app on supported devices or access it on desktop and log in using their Cox account credentials. All remaining and new customers will be able to purchase HBO Max directly from Cox.
Verizon: All of Verizon’s existing Fios customers who subscribe to HBO or HBO Now will get immediate access to HBO Max at launch and at no extra cost. HBO Max will be available to these customers in addition to their existing HBO linear or streaming services. Verizon’s other Fios TV and Fios Internet customers will be able to purchase HBO Max directly from the telco as an add-on to video services or as a standalone streaming service available to internet-only customers.
Microsoft’s Xbox One: Users in the U.S. who subscribe to HBO Max will be also able to access the platform at launch; the HBO Max app will be available on current Xbox One consoles and via the Microsoft Store on May 27.
Sony’s PlayStation 4: Available on PS4 systems at launch to users in the U.S. who subscribe to HBO Max.
NCTC Affiliates: HBO Max will be made available at launch to independent cable and broadband operators including WOW!, Atlantic Broadband, RCN, Grande Communications & Wave, and MCTV.
(Pictured above: HBO Max home screen on Apple TV)