Wait – don’t cancel your HBO NOW: How to get HBO Max
HBO is no stranger to streaming services. In fact, with the recent launch of HBO Max, they have three.
HBO Go, which has the catchiest name of any of these services – I bet those HBO execs are kicking themselves for not saving it for later – launched in 2010 as a mobile version of the channel for anyone subscribed to HBO through their cable network, including all current series and movies along with classic series such as The Sopranos and Six Feet Under – no Tales from the Crypt, though.
HBO Now launched in 2015 as a way for customers who were cutting their ties with cable for good to have access to HBO’s library for the price of $15 a month, without the need for a bloated cable TV subscription.
Now, another five years later, HBO has rolled out HBO Max, another $15 a month streaming service, with no cable company strings attached, as a way to replace the current HBO Now.
The launch of this new platform may confuse you: what makes this one different? Does this mean I have to cancel my HBO Now subscription?
Luckily we are here to help. We’re going to answer all the big questions you may have about exactly what HBO Max is, how to get it, and if you should.
HBO Max, as stated before, is the same price of HBO Now: $15 a month. This makes it the most expensive major streaming network on the market, with Disney+ starting at $7 and Netflix, despite becoming more pricey over the years, still capping off its standard tier at $12.99. However, the steep price of HBO Max may change depending on a number of factors.
For one, HBO struck a deal with Comcast to allow their Flex and Xfinity X1 customers to add on the HBO Max service to their existing HBO subscription at no extra fee. This offer may expire at a later date, so it’s wise to act now and see if your cable subscription qualifies.
Something to also consider is the potential for a cheaper, ad-supported tier of HBO Max–similar to Hulu– to emerge some time next year. There is little concrete about this plan, other than a few words from parent company AT&T CEO John Stankey, so maybe wait for more details.
Also, it may be interesting to see if ads negatively impact the pacing of HBO series, which were made to be watched commercial-free.
HBO Now subscribers can rest assured that their Now services will not be suspended for quite a while, if ever, so if they wish to wait until the kinks of HBO Max are worked out, they may do so.
Unfortunately, there is no way to have access to both services without paying double. And most cable companies do not feature the deal Comcast does, so you may wind up paying double for HBO/HBO Go and HBO Max, unless you cancel your HBO cable package.
HBO Max’s main appeal is the surplus of content, nearly doubling the current (and still very large) catalogues of HBO Go or HBO Now. HBO Max not only includes all of the current series hosted by the other services, but includes a number of popular series that have since left other platforms, most notably Friends.
A Friends reunion special was in the works as a launch-date title but has since been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But a number of other exclusives, such as the highly demanded “Snyder Cut” of the 2017 Justice League film, which was previously reported as a fanboy fiction, are part of the launch. No doubt the presence of the “Zack Snyder Cut” will entice comic book and superhero enthusiasts to subscribe for a free trial, and perhaps stick around if they like the service.
A number of exclusive series, such as a romantic comedy anthology starring Anna Kendrick titled Love Life, are set to roll out through the summer.
Presentation/Where to Watch
A key issue for some prospective customers is the lack of 4K resolution and HDR at launch, which some may find a deal-breaker, since much of the American public with money to spare on HBO Max will also have 4K televisions.
Another major kink in the launch is that HBO Max is not yet available as an app on Roku or Amazon Fire TV. With so many of its competitors featuring convenient apps on smart TVs, HBO Max risks cutting out huge swaths of the market. It is yet unknown when or if HBO Max will be available on the two services.
HBO Max is, however, available on gaming consoles such as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, as well as Chromecast, Samsung smart TVs, and Apple & Android. So even if one has Fire TV, but also has a current-gen console, HBO Max is still available to them.
There’s plenty of cons and pros to ordering an HBO Max subscription at launch, as with any major streaming platform, and it ultimately depends on what your interest is. If you lack a cable package and want access to HBO, there are many ways to do it. For instance, HBO Now gives you the option to stream through Prime Video, if that’s more convenient for you.
If you’re really only interested in HBO-specific content anyways, then we suggest maybe stick with you HBO Go or Now subscription for the time being. But if you’re a die-hard Friends fan or have been dying for a release of the “Snyder Cut” and maybe want some extra content to boot, then HBO Max might be a worthy investment for you.