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Is HBO Max Worth It? Here’s What to Know About the New Streaming Service

A subscription costs more than Netflix but promises well-known exclusives and new original programming

On The Record HBO Max

HBO Max/Warner Media

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Nearly a year after it was announced, HBO Max — a new streaming service from HBO and WarnerMedia — has officially launched. This streaming service is different from other streaming services in a couple of ways, so we’ve broken down all the details for you below.

It Costs More Than Hulu Or Netflix

HBO Max costs $14.99 per month for new subscribers, but is free for current HBO or HBO NOW customers. That’s around the same price as Netflix ($14) but ore than Hulu ($5.99), or a Disney+ bundle that includes Disney+, EPSN+ and Hulu for just $12.99 total.

Right now, HBO Max is offering a 7-day free trial for new subscribers with no restrictions, to check out whether or not the service is right for you.

If you don’t want to sign up for an account on your computer, there are a couple of other ways to subscribe:

Through A Cable Company

HBO Max comes with a traditional subscription to HBO, which you can add to a cable package through the following providers: AT&T TV, DIRECTV, U-Verse TV, Cox, Optimum, Spectrum, Verizon Fios TV, and others. Call up your cable provider for more information on how to sign up.

On a Smartphone Or Tablet

Download the HBO Max app on your iOS or Android device, and you’ll be prompted to log into your account. If you don’t have one, you can sign up from inside the app itself.

On Some Media Streamers, Game Consoles, and Smart TVs

The HBO Max app is available on Apple TV, Samsung TV’s released after 2016, the Xbox One, and the PlayStation 4. HBO Max is not currently available on Roku and Fire TV devices. Once downloaded, open the app and you’ll be prompted to log into your account. If you don’t have one, you can sign up from inside the app itself.

Stream a “Curated” Library Including Friends, Game Of Thrones and Harry Potter

All streaming services work the same way: pick what you want to watch, and start streaming. What differentiates HBO Max is its library of exclusive catalogue titles and upcoming original shows. HBO says there are already 10,000 hours of “curated” content available to stream, and we’ve highlighted some of the most interesting titles below.

WarnerMedia owns the rights to movies and TV shows going back 100 years, so this is the only place you’ll be able to stream classic shows like FriendsRick and Morty, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, and Doctor Who. The media company also owns the rights to several blockbuster films, like 2001: A Space Oddysey, Harry Potter, Friday The 13th, A Hard Days Night, Casablanca, The Lord of the Rings, Citizen Kane, North By Northwest, Gone With The Wind, and Braveheart.

An HBO Max subscription naturally includes access to the entire HBO catalog, which includes The Wire, The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Game of Thrones, Veep, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Westworld. Finally, HBO Max is the only service that allows you to stream anime films from the legendary Japanese film studio Studio Ghibli. This marks the first time these films have been available to stream on any platform. See more of what to stream on HBO Max here.

HBO is Also Developing New TV Shows and Movies

Beyond catalog titles, HBO Max has an entire list of original TV shows and movies called “HBO Originals,” which are slated to come out through the end of the year. The service has launched with On The Record (pictured above), a documentary chronicling the life of famous music executive Drew Dixon, Love Life, a “romantic comedy anthology” series whose first season stars Anna Kendrick, Zoë Chao, Peter Vack, and Sasha Compère, and The Not-Too-Late Show With Elmo. 

HBO Original TV shows have launched with a handful of episodes, and new ones will be released on a weekly basis. The number of episodes per season will vary based on the show. HBO Max’s library isn’t as deep as the ones you’ll find on Netflix or Hulu, but its slate of exclusives and originals help keep it competitive.

HBO Max Does Not Fully Replace HBO Go or HBO NOW

HBO is currently running three separate streaming services; here’s how they all break down.

  • HBO NOW allows you to stream HBO content without a cable TV subscription.
  • HBO GO allows traditional HBO subscribers to stream their content on mobile devices, smart TVs or media streamers.
  • HBO Max includes access to all of HBO’s content plus exclusive original programming, and hundreds of catalogue TV shows and movies.

One other addition: Amazon Prime members can add HBO to their channel lineup, and stream current HBO series, movies and documentaries like Insecure, Westworld and Real Time With Bill Maher. Amazon’s offering a free 7-day trial to HBO right now, though this will only get you existing HBO content and not the new HBO Max content.

You Can’t Stream in 4K Or HDR (High Dynamic Range) Just Yet

HBO Max tops out at 1080P (full HD) and doesn’t support HDR (high dynamic range), a video technology that makes colors and shadows look more realistic. These features may come in the future, but are not available now.

New Content Will Be Added Over Time, and Shows and Movies May Cycle In and Out

One big difference between HBO Max and streaming services like Netflix is that HBO and WarnerMedia own the rights to the content they’re streaming. That means movies and TV shows won’t be taken down because licensing agreements have run out.

But: WarnerMedia’s archives are huge, so it may cycle some shows and movies on and off HBO Max as it sees fit. This is never going to be a service that allows you to see every single thing in the WarnerMedia vault, at least not for now.

More and more traditional media companies have created their own streaming services (NBC’s Peacock launches this July, CBS launched CBS All Access in 2014) to maintain exclusive streaming rights on their content, and avoid splitting revenue with a third party.

HBO and WarnerMedia can acquire the rights to more shows and movies, so the HBO Max library has the opportunity grow over time, but that’s not guaranteed.

The Bottom Line

If you’re already an HBO subscriber, the choice of whether or not to get HBO Max has been decided for you; start streaming. If you’re on the fence, give the 7-day free trial a chance. As we said earlier, HBO Max doesn’t have the same number of TV shows and movies as its competitors, but its deep back catalogue and upcoming exclusives won’t be available to stream anywhere else.

Get a 7-day free trial to HBO Max here

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