What is HBO Max?
HBO Max is a single streaming platform that not only includes all of HBO's own original content - from shows like Game of Thrones and Westworld to a range of movies - but also new original material and content from owner WarnerMedia's other services.
You can find content from the likes of the following:
- Warner Bros.
- New Line Cinema
- Studio Ghibli
- Looney Tunes
- The CW
- Turner Classic Movies
- Cartoon Network
- Adult Swim
- Rooster Teeth
You can get a pretty good idea of the main pitch from this trailer for the service:
How much does it cost?
The service costs $14.99 per month. That's the same price as the existing HBO Now service, and HBO Max includes all that content and more, so it's impressive that HBO has kept pricing the same.
In addition, the service is free for existing HBO subscribers on AT&T and HBO Now direct billing customers, while customers who subscribe to AT&T’s premium video, mobile and broadband packages can also get the platform at no additional cost. Here's a list of the specific customers who are eligible for this:
- DIRECTV PREMIERTM
- DIRECTV LO MAXIMO
- U400 and U450 TV
- AT&T TV NOW Max
- AT&T Unlimited Elite wireless plan
Other AT&T customers can still get free trials of the service, though the length of the trial depends on the account that you have. Customers of the standard TV packages will get a three-month free trial, whilst some internet and mobile customers will get a one-month free trial. If you'd like to know more, check out AT&T's website. You can find all these offers in our roundup of discounts for HBO Max.
In addition, some other third-party HBO subscribers are eligible. If you currently pay for HBO through one of the following providers should be able to get HBO Max for free:
- Charter's Spectrum
- YouTube TV
- Altice (Optimum and SuddenLink)
- Cox Communications
- NCTC (WOW!, Atlantic Broadband, RCN, Grande Communications & Wave, and MCTV)
The sign-up process will differ depending on your plan - check with your provider for full details.
It's rumoured that the company is also developing a cheaper ad-supported version of the service, similar to the ad-enabled Hulu subscription, but if this does ever come to fruition it wouldn't launch until 2021, a year after the main HBO Max launch. This ad-supported version could reportedly cost as little as $8 a month, and would be notable for essentially being the first time that HBO has ever delivered its customers ads.
Is HBO Max coming to the UK?
In all honesty we'd be very surprised if HBO Max came to the UK. Neither of the company's other streaming services are available in the UK, and instead it has lucrative deals with Sky to make HBO content available on Sky Atlantic and Now TV - those deals mean that it's very unlikely we'll see HBO Max here.
A UK launch got even less likely when Sky announced an extension of its "multi-year programming partnership" with HBO in October 2019, "meaning Sky and NOW TV customers will be able to enjoy award-winning content from HBO and Warner Bros. ... for many years to come," according to a Sky press release. That announcement even specifically cited HBO Max in reference to new co-productions between Sky and HBO Max, following previous co-productions including Chernobyl and Catherine the Great.
So essentially there's almost no chance that HBO Max will come to the UK, but it's likely that most, if not all, of the original exclusives will come to Sky and Now TV.
However, HBO Max has been announced to come to Latin America, the Caribbean and parts of Europe where HBO already directly operates from 2021. If you'd like to know more about the platform's international expansion, then take look at our piece on where HBO Max is available.
How to watch HBO Max from the UK
We've managed to crack the code to watching HBO Max in the US through using a VPN, a US Google Play/Apple ID account and the HBO Max app. VPNs give you a new IP address, so you can browse the internet as if you're based in the US.
Here's the basic steps you need to watch HBO Max in the UK:
- Download a VPN onto your iOS/Android device and select a US server
- Create a new US Apple ID/Google Play account
- Download HBO Max from the app store
- Sign up using your new account and Paypal
We've successfully tested this method with NordVPN, though you should also be able to do it with the likes of ExpressVPN or another one of our recommended VPNs for HBO Max. You can find full instructions in our guide to watching HBO Max from the UK.
What classic shows and films are on HBO Max?
Friends has left US Netflix to move over to HBO Max - and is even getting a one-off special reunion episode - and that other '90s favourite The Fresh Prince of Bel Air is on the platform, along with The Big Bang Theory.
At San Diego Comic-Con it was also announced that the DC Universe show Doom Patrol would become an HBO Max co-production, with season two airing simultaneously on both streaming services starting on 25 June 2020, and the first season arriving in its entirety from launch. That's not the only DC content either - the platform also has 40 years of classic DC movies, including all the old Batman and Superman movies.
HBO has also signed a deal with the BBC to get exclusive US streaming rights to a whole range of British shows, including modern Doctor Who (from 2005 onwards), the Office (UK version), Luther, Top Gear, and more. The deal even includes new episodes of Doctor Who going forwards - though they'll still be broadcast on BBC America first.
That's not even the biggest exclusive HBO has landed from other creators: that's probably the entire Studio Ghibli collection. In a landmark deal, HBO has exclusive US streaming rights to all 20 existing Ghibli movies - including Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and My Neighbor Totoro - along with the upcoming The Wind Rises. This is the first time all the Ghibli's have been available to stream in one place in the US, making the deal even more remarkable - though the rest of the world gets them all on Netflix.
There's kids TV too, anchored by iconic brand Sesame Street. This started airing on HBO back in 2015, but from 2020 onwards (well, for five years at least) a new deal has Sesame Street episodes airing exclusively on HBO Max, along with four new Sesame Street shows including an Elmo-led late night talk show parody. Plus, all 50 seasons of Sesame Street's back catalogue is available to watch, including some that have never been available on-demand before.
In terms of more adult animation, South Park is exclusively available on HBO Max, with all the existing episodes plus new episodes 24 hours after they air, while Rick and Morty is also on the service - though not exclusively.
Movies wise, the platform will has the likes of The Lord Of The Rings franchise (including The Hobbit), The Matrix trilogy, classics such as The Wizard Of Oz and Citizen Cane and new blockbusters such as A Star Is Born. All eight Harry Potter movies are also now available to stream from launch, much earlier than expected.
You can see a taster of what's on HBO Max below:
What are the new exclusives on HBO Max?
Whilst all the big films and shows are exciting, HBO has commissioned multiple new projects, and is using HBO Max as an excuse to ramp up its original content ambitions. Here’s some of the biggest things both on the platform right now, and coming in the future:
- Love Life - This rom-com anthology series stars Anna Kendrick (who also serves as producer), and follows a different character each episode from their first romance until their last.
- On The Record - This documentary film focuses on the allegations of sexual abuse and harassment against hip hop mogul Russell Simmons.
- Legendary - This competition focuses all around the art of Voguing, and is judged by a series of celebrities including Law Roach, Jameela Jamil and Megan Thee Stallion.
- Craftopia - This kids crafting competition is designed to be a comfort show to wind down to, and is hosted by YouTuber Lauren Riihimaki.
- The Not Too Late Show with Elmo - This Sesame Street star has his own talk show in the style of other ‘Late’ shows.
- Looney Tunes Cartoons - All your Looney Tunes faves - Buggs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Roadrunner - are in these shorts episodes, each lasting between one and six minutes. Season one consists of eighty episodes.
- Adventure Time: Distant Lands, 25 June 2020 - HBO Max has commissioned four one-hour specials from the creators of the recently cancelled show, Adventure Time.
- Close Enough, 9 July 2020 - An adult animated series revolving around a millennial couple, their five-year-old daughter, and their divorced friends who live with them in an LA duplex.
- Expecting Amy, 9 July 2020 - This three-part docuseries will follow comedian Amy Schuemer whilst she was on tour during her pregnancy.
- The House of Ho, 16 July 2020 - Inspired by the film hit Crazy Rich Asians, this docuseries will follow a wealthy multigenerational Vietnamese-American family in Houston, Texas.
- Justice League Snyder Cut, 2021 - The 2017 film justice league was originally directed by Zack Snyder, but Joss Whedon took over and changed the film substantially. This cut will bring Snyder's original vision to life.
Originals with unspecified release dates:
- Friends Reunion Special, date TBC - The original main cast of Friends - and the creators - will reunite to chat about the show and reminisce about some of the funniest and most iconic moments.
- Dune: The Sisterhood, date TBC - Designed to coincide with the release of the sci-fi feature film Dune, this series explores the story from another perspective - a group of women called the Bene Gesserit.
- Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, date TBC - This ten-episode animated series will act as a prequel to both Gremlins films, and is set in 1920’s Shanghai in which a young boy called Sam Wing meets the Mogwai Gizmo.
- Grease: Rydell High, date TBC - In the mood for a musical? This new series is a continuation of the original film Grease, following the students that are still attending Rydell High School.
- Untitled Green Lantern series, date TBC - Arrowverse co-creator Greg Berlanti will be exclusively producing this brand new show which will span across several decades, focusing on the origins of two Green Lanterns and exploring the villain Sinestro.
- Strange Adventures, date TBC - Another DC series on the cards, Strange Adventures will be an anthology series telling tales of a number of DC characters - but centered around Adam Strange, an archaeologist who turns into a superhero.
- Justice League Dark, date TBC - One of three shows being produced by J.J. Abrams, this show focuses on a branch of the Justice League who deal with supernatural matters.
- Overlook, date TBC - Based on Stephen King’s The Shining, this series will tell more about the setting of the story, The Overlook Hotel, and the ghosts that dwell within.
- Duster, date TBC - This original series will be a crime show set in the seventies, following a getaway driver who gets into lots of dangerous situations.
- Equal - a four-part docuseries from Scout Productions about the history of the LGBTQ+ movement, with interviews with activists such as Harry Hay, reenactments, never-before seen footage and deep dives into events like the Stonewall Riots.
What devices is HBO Max available on?
Besides the obvious web browser, HBO Max is available to watch on most smart devices, including iOS, Android, Chromecast, smart TVs, Apple TV, YouTube TV, Xbox One, and PS4. Roku is currently in talks to secure the app on these smart devices, but unfortunately Amazon Fire TV will not be supporting HBO Max on its platform at the moment.
HBO Max vs HBO Now vs HBO Go
There's one final potential confusion worth clearing up: the difference between HBO Now, HBO Go, and HBO Max.
For reasons best known to itself, HBO currently operates two separate streaming services which offer almost identical features and interfaces in addition to HBO Max. The main difference right now is how you pay for them: HBO Now is a standalone service that anyone can sign up to for $15 a month, while HBO Go is provided to existing HBO cable subscribers free of charge.
If you're not in the US you're almost certainly not paying for HBO on cable, so you won't be able to sign up for HBO Go anyway. However, if you are a US cable subscriber who's staying or living abroad, you should be able to access HBO Go through a VPN just as you can with HBO Now.
- Get 3 months free from ExpressVPN: our recommended premium VPN provider
HBO Max is the closest to HBO Now, as it's a standalone service, not limited to existing cable customers. However, as already mentioned it includes additional content that isn't originally from HBO, along with all of the new exclusive shows and films.
Deadline has reported that HBO Go will gradually be phased out over the next few months, whilst HBO Now will be re-branded to just 'HBO'.