In an already-crowded streaming subscription market, longtime cable Godfather HBO is getting into the mix when it drops HBO Max a week from Wednesday. I initially thought it was some hybrid between HBO and Cinemax but it's more of a "HBO to the max"-type of thing. Cord-cutting folks already springing for Netflix, Prime, Hulu, Disney+, and whatever else they fancy are wondering if they now need to drop even more coin and for what.
I'm an HBO Stan from way back. Save for random breaks here and there, I've had HBO since 1978. I still remember the day our very first cable guide arrived because it had Jacqueline Bisset on the cover (along with Nick Nolte in THE DEEP). My bro recently moved and got rid of his cable so his log-in for streaming HBO and Showtime is no longer valid. He didn't use the account so there was no need for me to pay over $30 a month for the channels. Regardless, I was without my first pay cable love and needed to get it back. My three options were: pay $18/month to DirecTV (with access to HBO Max), pay $15/month for HBO NOW (with HBO Max access), or pay
$15 $12/month for HBO Max.
The HBO Max streaming service will consist of: HBO, HBO's vast library of original shows like "The Wire" and "Barry", tons of non-HBO shows like "Friends" and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air", a shitload of movies, original shows and movies (i.e. Max Originals), and movies and shows that fall under the large WarnerMedia umbrella. I'd compare it most to Disney+ in that there's a lot of legacy stuff and there's not a huge emphasis on new material (at least so far). It's slated to cost $15 a month but for a limited time you can get it for $12 per month for the first year before it goes up to $15. If you opt for that deal, you can access HBO NOW until HBO Max goes live next week.
HBO NOW is a stand-alone streaming service that does not require a cable or satellite provider---you pay $15 for just HBO and you can stream it whenever and wherever you want. If you're currently paying for NOW, you'll have access to Max.
HBO GO is the streaming service that HBO customers use. If you're currently paying a cable/satellite company for HBO, access to HBO GO is included. You just need to download the app and enter the log-in and password.
They both have the same content.
If you already pay for HBO NOW and are billed directly by HBO, Apple, or Google Play, you will have full access to HBO Max when it launches. You'll just need to download a new app on whatever device(s) you stream on.
It doesn't look like it yet according to this FAQ: Subscribers who get HBO through AT&T TV, DIRECTV, AT&T U-Verse, Hulu, or Spectrum will get access to HBO Max at launch (at no extra cost). Check back with us here as we add additional partners to the list.
If I had to guess, I'd say it's only a matter of time before Prime joins that list.
Needless to say, I signed up for the $12/month deal directly with HBO Max. If you're currently without HBO and want to get it, this deal was pretty much a no-brainer.