WarnerMedia is serious about taking down Netflix with HBO Max, which now has an official launch date and price: May 2020 for $14.99 a month. Now that we know a whole lot more about the TV series and movies coming to HBO Max next year, Netflix should be nervous.
The service will launch with 10,000 hours of content, which includes HBO’s library of series and films, exclusive original shows and movies, and selected titles from the extensive Warner Bros. catalog, WarnerMedia executives announced during the company’s annual event for investors tonight (Oct. 29). That may not seem like a lot of content to start, especially given WB’s deep bench, but WarnerMedia Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt said HBO Max is “removing much of the filler no one watches anyway.” (Shot at Netflix? You be the judge.)
In another dig at Netflix, WarnerMedia is emphasizing human recommendations for what to watch next. Netflix famously relies on algorithms to serve up new shows and movies
HBO Max will have more than 1,800 movies at launch, and many of them will be new releases from the past year, like the blockbuster hit Joker. HBO Max will be the new home for DC Comics, with every DC superhero movie from the last decade and every Batman and Superman film of the last 40 years landing on the service within the first year after launch. An original new series based on DC’s Green Lantern is also coming to the service.
A few other notable originals coming to HBO Max next year include House of the Dragon, a Game of Thrones prequel from George R. R. Martin; The Undoing, a limited series starring Nicole Kidman; Run, a comedy produced by Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge; Jordan Peele’s Lovecraft Country; a Perry Mason mystery reboot starring Matthews Rhys of The Americans; and The Plot Against America, a an adaptation by David Simon (The Wire's creator) of Philip Roth’s novel starring Winona Ryder. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
HBO Max will also be the home of Sesame Street’s past 50 seasons (and five exclusive ones to come) and South Park’s 23 seasons, with three seasons landing exclusively on HBO Max after they air on Comedy Central.
HBO Go and HBO Now aren't going away, but given that HBO Now also costs $15 a month and doesn't include exclusive originals or titles from the Warner Bros. catalog, WarnerMedia execs expect subscribers to move over to the better value app. HBO subscribers will gain access to HBO Max for free. WarnerMedia plans to bundle HBO Max with AT&T TV, the company’s live TV-streaming service, in 2020, with an ad-supported bundle coming in 2021.
HBO Max will maintain the weekly prestige TV release schedule that HBO created with shows like The Sopranos and Game of Thrones in hopes that people won’t binge and move on, but keep returning to the service every week.
“We know people love to binge, and on HBO Max you can binge previous seasons to your heart’s desire,” said HBO Max Chief Content Officer Kevin Reilly.
HBO Max will have 31 original TV series in 2020, which will grow to 50 originals in 2021.
Can HBO Max take down Netflix and fend off Apple TV+, which launches Nov. 1, and Disney+, which launches Nov. 12?
"This is not Netflix. This is not Disney. This is uniquely HBO Max," said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson.
WarnerMedia is getting a late start, but its flagship streaming service has (almost) everything you could want.