HBO Max, the long-awaited streaming service from WarnerMedia, finally arrives on Wednesday. The service essentially combines HBO with its two other entertainment assets in Turner and Warner Bros.
And if you’re already an HBO subscriber, then you most likely will have free access to HBO Max when it goes live next week. WarnerMedia has spent the past few weeks cutting distribution deals with virtually every major TV provider and digital streaming provider to give their customers that are already paying for HBO an easy access point into Max — for no additional cost.
Still confused? Here’s how it works:
For those customers that subscribe to HBO either directly through HBO Now, or via their pay-TV operator (including WarnerMedia’s parent company AT&T), only have to download the HBO Max app on their streaming device of choice. Amazon’s Fire TV and Roku as of now remain the only major devices that don’t have a deal to carry the Max app, though Roku is widely expected by Wednesday’s launch. The same goes for those who buy HBO via digital providers like Hulu, Apple, Google, Samsung and Verizon.
For an easy list, here are the pay TV providers that have signed up to give their HBO customers automatic access to Max: Altice USA, Cox Communications, Charter, AT&T and smaller providers including WOW!, Atlantic Broadband, RCN, Grande Communications & Wave, and MCTV.
The same login those consumers would use for HBO Now — or HBO Go for pay TV users — will give them access to HBO Max. That includes customers of YouTube and Hulu’s live TV streaming bundle. YouTube has never offered HBO until now, but it’s the same idea. You pay for HBO, you get Max.
AT&T is also giving its phone customers who don’t subscribe to HBO discounts for Max.
The only major holdouts from the above list are Comcast and Amazon, which allows its customers to subscribe to HBO Now via Amazon Prime Video Channels. HBO Max would have to be purchased separately, but since its the same $14.99 a month price (HBO Max is offering a introductory discount that bumps it down to $11.99 for the first year), WarnerMedia is just banking on those customers switching over anyway. Besides, both Amazon and Comcast (which is rolling out its own streaming service Peacock nationwide in July) are competitors in this new space, so there’s probably a bit of gamesmanship here.
When it launches, there will be three separate HBO-branded streaming options, alongside the traditional TV channels: HBO Now, HBO Go and HBO Max. We know it’s confusing, but the easy answer to all this is: If you have HBO, you probably already have Max.