HBO Max Coming in 2020, and It's Bringing Friends with It

As the theme song to the popular Friends sitcom says, they'll be there for you. Only starting next year, "there" will be WarnerMedia's new streaming service.

Friends comes to HBO Max

Starting in 2020, if you want to stream Friends, you'll do it on HBO Max. (Image credit: Hulton Archive/Getty)

We've known that WarnerMedia and parent company AT&T have been planning to launch a streaming media service for a while. But we now know that it's going to be called HBO Max after WarnerMedia announced the new name today (July 9). And we have a better sense of what's going to be available on the new network when it launches in spring 2020.

As the HBO Max name would imply, expect HBO's content to land on the new streaming service. (Currently, you can stream all that by paying $15 a month for HBO Now.) But WarnerMedia is hoping to sweeten the pot even further by making HBO Max the only place where you'll find all 236 episodes of Friends available to stream.

Friends is currently available on Netflix, though that relationship is coming to an end next year in time for the HBO Max launch. Friends will be the second popular TV show Netflix has lost access to, as The Office is leaving that streaming service so that it can be one of the tentpole features in NBCUniversal's upcoming offering.

In addition to Friends, HBO Max will offer every episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Pretty Little Liars. The new service will also be the exclusive streaming home for dramas that air on The CW network such as Riverdale.

All told, WarnerMedia is promising plenty of programming from Warner Bros., New Line, DC Entertainment, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, The CW, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth and Looney Tunes on HBO Max. In addition to that library of content, HBO Max figures to offer original programming. WarnerMedia announced deals with producer Greg Berlanti — he's behind all those DC Comics shows you've enjoyed on the CW — and actress Reese Witherspoon to create original movies for HBO Max.

HBO Max will need all that programming if it's going to stand out in an increasingly crowded field of streaming services. Netflix and Hulu have already carved out a place for themselves with a mix of original content and old movies and TV shows. And by the time HBO Max launches next year, Disney will have launched its own streaming service while Apple will have rolled out a slate of original programming as part of its new Apple TV+ efforts.

One thing WarnerMedia didn't clear up when it unveiled the new name and content plans for its streaming service: just how much you'll pay for HBO Max. Expect it to be more than the $15 you currently have to pay each month for HBO Now, according to the Wall Street Journal which cites people familiar with WarnerMedia's plans.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.