The HBO Max application is now available for Apple users with apps for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV: get the app here. HBO Max replaces HBO Now, so if you have the Now app already installed, it will transform into Max the next time the App Store updates your apps. HBO Max is a US-only service.
The HBO Max content offering is a superset of what was available under the Now moniker, with the same $14.99 monthly subscription price. Alongside everything you expect from HBO, Max content includes the full catalog of sitcom Friends, Looney Tunes, Studio Ghibli, Adult Swim shows, and a documentary on sexual assault accusations against Russel Simmons (a film that was previously set for Apple TV+).
As of May 27 launch, HBO has not agreed deals with Amazon and Roku, which means an app for Amazon Fire Stick or Roku boxes are not available. You can get HBO Max on games consoles like Xbox One and PlayStation 4 though.
HBO Max is available for Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD. Following the removal of HBO Now on third-gen Apple TV boxes, customers with those devices must use AirPlay from the phone app if they want to watch on a big screen.
HBO Go is completely separate and will not migrate to Max. If you subscribe to HBO through Apple TV Channels, you can download the HBO Max app and log in with your Apple ID to access all content at no additional charge. If you get HBO through your cable provider, you may be able to use those credentials to access HBO Max.
HBO had to renegotiate distribution deals for this, so the exact terms vary per cable company and Comcast is not onboard. HBO Max is also being bundled with select AT&T Wireless plans.
If you don’t already have access to HBO Max, you can subscribe in-app using Apple’s in-app purchase system.
HBO Max is meant to integrate with the TV app’s features like the Up Next queue and universal search, but this functionality appears to still be rolling out at this time. HBO Max content will not be available directly through the Apple TV Channel; you will be kicked off to the installed app.
HBO Max brings together all of HBO, new Max Originals, content from Warner Bros, Crunchyroll and other WarnerMedia brands, and a back catalog of licensed shows and movies. It is the latest entrant into the video streaming space, which is dominated by the likes of Netflix.
In the last six months, Apple TV+, Disney+ and HBO Max have joined the fray as TV watchers gradually transition to internet streaming, moving away from traditional cable TV. NBC’s streaming service Peacock will debut in April.
HBO Max enters as the most expensive option of the bunch, priced at $14.99 per month, but has a worthy proposition of 10,000 hours of content and the exclusive destination for premium franchises like Game of Thrones, Friends and Silicon Valley. However, the launch of the service has been criticized for its relative lack of original programming, and none of its content will be offered in 4K. HBO Max will also be hampered by distribution problems if it cannot secure deals for apps on popular platforms like Amazon Fire TV and Roku.
Going forward, it will be interesting to see how HBO will manage what content gets put on ‘normal’ HBO and what is reserved as a Max exclusive. The road to HBO Max involved parent company AT&T buying out Time Warner in an $85 billion deal in 2018, followed by internal reorganizations and executive shakeup. The previous chief of HBO, Richard Plepler, disagreed with the company’s direction and exited the company last year. Plepler has now signed a five-year deal to make content for Apple TV+.
HBO Max launches as an ad-free service but plans are underway for a lower-priced subscription tier that is supported by commercials.
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