All About HBO Max: How to Get It, What’s Included.. And That ‘Friends’ Reunion
Don’t fret if you’re running out of TV to binge — your streaming options are set to expand again! WarnerMedia’s HBO Max arrives May 27 with a whopping 10,000 hours of programming. Here’s the lowdown:
What It Costs:
$14.99 per month, but if you sign up at hbomax.com before May 27, you can lock in at $11.99 per month for one year. More good news: Folks who subscribe to the cable channel HBO through AT&T TV, DirecTV, AT&T U-Verse, Hulu, or Spectrum get HBO Max at no additional cost. Same for HBO Now subscribers.
How to Watch:
Stream at hbomax.com; download the HBO Max app on Apple, Android and Google phones and tablets; access on your TV through some plug-in streaming devices, like Google Chromecast; or stream via Hulu and YouTube TV, if you subscribe as an add-on through those services.
HBO Max’s chief content officer Kevin Reilly says “the first order of business” was securing rights to crowd-pleasers like Friends and The Big Bang Theory, with Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco. Of course, HBO shows past (Game of Thrones, Sex and the City) and present (Succession, Barry) will be available, and movies buffs can see new hits (Joker, Crazy Rich Asians) as well as classics (The Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, Citizen Kane).
HBO Max Original Series:
At launch, expect a diverse slate including rom-com series Love Life with Anna Kendrick, voguing dance competition Legendary and, for kids, The Not-Too-Late Show With Elmo featuring the Sesame Street fave as host. Later debuts include Cuoco’s thriller The Flight Attendant and the unscripted Friends reunion!
Here’s more from the interview with Reilly:
Not to make light of it, but in some ways we’re all at home, we’re itching for new stuff to watch on TV, in some ways it is not the worst time to launch the service, is it?
Kevin Reilly: No! From that perspective, this was the date we had internally and we stuck with the same date. We did have one discussion when it first hit and said, “Let’s canvas and see, are we going to be prepared and how do we feel about it?” And ultimately felt that we were going to be ready. And as confusing and difficult a time it is out there, better to enter the marketplace now while people are over-consuming entertainment, hungry for new choices, and other things are not in the marketplace.
Streaming services are very much the norm now when we watch TV. What sets HBO Max apart from the other guys out there?
The first revelation we’ll see is the breadth of what we’ve assembled under one hood. HBO obviously has a very high brand recognition and love, particularly with a certain segment of the consumers. It’s highly recognized and then there’s a good chunk that love it.
Then there’s a segment of consumers who say, “Okay, I know what it is and I like it, but I like other things as well or other members of my household.” And so that’s when we brought into the best of the resources of Warner Media in general. And unlike say Disney, where Disney is a consumer facing brand, Warner Brothers is not and that’s where we get into drawing on a hundred years of feature film making, from The Wizard of Oz to Joker.
Also, I don’t think anybody even realizes that we have had Hanna-Barbera and Looney Tunes some of the oldest and most loyal followed animation, up through all the decades of the Cartoon Network. So we have this big family offering and then you have connections to teen audiences like Adult Swim and the CW and all of those brands.
And you’ll see the product experience itself allows for you to navigate it all a little easier. To absorb the [new] material, we’re going to program it. That means not drop all the new episodes at once but drop maybe two or three and then do it episodically which allows people to have anticipation and things to build. So it’s going to have this feeling that it’s got, the fancy term is curated, but a handpicked feel that we think we’ve done for a long time at this company and we think that the consumer will just make it feel different.
How important was it for you to get those classic shows like Friends and The Big Bang Theory and those shows that we still go back to?
That was the number one order of business. First of all, we can’t assemble and put out a product so closely associated with our company without getting the best and most successful pieces of entertainment from our company in there. And secondly, they’re just very, very meaningful. We’ve seen Friends on another service and it performed at the top so we believe it will have the same level of experience.
Big Bang Theory has never been offered [on a streamer]. We’ve seen how it’s performed for us on TBS still today so we think it’s an enormous offering. I couldn’t imagine it going to another service. So we felt that way about a handful of things from the get go that we just had to have.
I’ve personally really missed Friends not being available these past months because it’s always my go-to when I don’t know what to watch. I’d just go to Friends.
Millions of people do.
Of course I have to ask…the Friends reunion will still happen someday, right?
It is happening, yeah. The big hangup there is COVID and particularly since we wanted a live audience and that just became really complicated. So as soon as we can figure out how to put on the show, we want to. We’ll get together and I’m hoping that we are able to shoot it sometime this summer.
HBO Max will have the movies that HBO has, but there’s also a library. So some movies will change out every month but then there will also be a standard library that’ll always be there, right?
What HBO does is have those movies that come out of the theatrical experience and they have that in their service. So you’d have all of those movies plus we have about another thousand titles of additional movies, a depth of things like the DC library and things like that where it will be much deeper. We also have the biggest classic film library really than any other service would have and we will have a very fresh rotation of those titles going through every month curated by Turner Classic Movies. So that whole experience will be the best movie experience of any subscription service.
What will make HBO Max a success in your eyes? Is it the subscriber numbers? What will you guys be measuring?
We don’t measure ratings anymore thankfully in the classic way that you did on the networks or broadcast networks or anything but you do measure its subscriber growth first of all. This is a multimillion dollar startup but it’s a startup. We have 30 million HBO customers, so we’re hoping to first pivot that 30 million over to HBO Max. You’re getting twice the content for the same price. It’s hard for us to imagine all the households wouldn’t want to do that. And then we start to pick up those other adjacent viewers, the ones who have thought about HBO or had it and dropped it, but now they see that there is an even better value because they get to get HBO and all of this other content.
HBO Max, Launch Date, Wednesday, May 27
For more information, check the HBO Max site.