During this period of global lock-down due to the Coronavirus pandemic, more companies have been entering into the streaming business more which is getting the market more wider with Netflix being the biggest in the business, HBO Max is the newcomer in the industry now.
The HBO Max is a tweaked-up service which offers every show and movie available on HBO as well as exclusive content from WarnerMedia and DC Comics. With that, it will be the hub to catch up with big shows including Friends, The Big Bang Theory and Rick and Morty as well as classic movies including Lord of the Rings, Casablanca and A Star is Born as well as other blockbuster DC movies like Joker, Wonder Woman and even the forthcoming Zack Snyder cut of the Justice League and Kids from Looney Toons, Sesame Street and much more.
But with so much coming to the newly released streaming service, the pricing of which is US$14.99 per month, HBO already charges this same amount for it’s streaming service as well but subscribers can just upgrade to the Max automatically. But below are few things we know about the subscription for new customers and existing subscribers of HBO.
What happens as an HBO subscriber
According to AT&T, all customers who subscribe to HBO Now and are billed by HBO will be upraded for free to the HBO Max.
An HBO Max spokesperson made it known that the company will be “communicating additional details on how specific users access HBO Max as we get closer to launch.” leaving it unclear if there is any step is still needed to be taken to ensure a smooth transition of user from HBO Now to HBO Max or if an HBO Now login will simply be used in the new HBO Max apps.
If you subscribe to HBO Now through a third-party service — such as on a platform like Amazon Prime Video Channels or Roku, or through an internet provider or if you signed up for the service via the Android app — you won’t necessarily be upgraded, as the billing there isn’t handled directly by HBO.
By late April, HBO and Apple reached an accord to upgrade those who subscribe to HBO Now through an Apple device to HBO Max and the upgrade will then be available in time for the new service’s launch then. HBO also reached a similar deal with Google same late April in order to upgrade users who subscribe to HBO Now through Google Play to HBO Max when the service is finally launched.
But just in case you still wonder about getting into HBO, then you can check by logging in on your smartphone or computer by following the guide below from HBO’s help guide.
After you log in, then head to the Profile section.
On a computer check the upper-right corner and choose the Profile icon.
But if on a smartphone or tablet, then tap the Profile icon, then tap the Settings icon (upper-right corner).
Choose Billing Information and look for the following sentence: Your subscription is billed through _________.
A full list of third-party providers can be found here.
What if you get HBO from my cable provider or streaming TV service?
While HBO seems to have reached an accord with some big digital companies like Apple and Google, it’s unclear whether such agreement has been reached with Cable TV companies as well. It’s possible AT&T will make a deal with some to push users to HBO Max but this is just a speculation.
Because current subscriber will be able to continue watching HBO and using HBO Go but will miss out on the extra shows and movies being added up to the HBO Max exclusively. There are some exceptions but the provider of your subscription will be a big determining factor
For example, Charter customers who already subscribe to HBO through Spectrum cable service will “gain an immediate access to HBO Max” according to the HBO Max spokesperson while new Spectrum subscriber will “be able to purchase HBO Max directly through Charter at launch.”
AT&T had initially announced that they’re reaching a deal with YouTube TV back in February which “will allow users to subscribe to HBO Max through that service”
The spokesperson says that the company has “additional distribution partners in place for HBO Max at launch, and as soon as we’re able to announce those deals and outline the user experiences on those platforms we will do so.”
On May 20th, AT&T’s WarnerMedia announced a host of new cable companies which will be upgrading customers who subscribe to HBO through cable providers to HBO max for free by May 27th when the service goes live. Among them includes Altice which owns Optimum and SuddenLink, then Verizon, Cox Communications and NCTC (a cable group that includes providers such as WOW!, Atlantic Broadband, RCN, Grande Communications & Wave, and MCTV).
The company further explained that the HBO Max will be available on XBox One and Playstation 4 video game consoles as well as all the Samsung Smart TVs released between the period of 2016 and 2020 which all will be getting the new application. This is an addition to the previously announced iOS, Android, Android TV ad Apple TV Apps. The service will also work on PC and Mac web browsers, Chromebooks and Chromecast. WarnerMedia previously announced earlier this month that those who get HBO through Hulu will similarly be upgraded for free to HBO Max at launch.
What if I get HBO from AT&T or DirecTV?
Because HBO as well as other WarnerMedia are owned by AT&T, the upgrading process for those using the service might be a bit easier even though there could still be some hurdle to jump over. If you’re using AT&T service, there is likelihood of you getting HBO Max all for free but the duration of your free access could be just one month or three month or even a year but it all depend on the service which you have. Below is a chart which AT&T put together to show if you will get the free upgrade.
So new AT&T TV Choice, Xtra or Ultimate and Óptimo Más package customers as well as DirecTV Choice, Xtra, Ultimate, Mas Ultra or Óptimo Más package customers will be eligible to receive HBO Max for a period of one year. While current subscribers with most TV packages from ATV&T TV or DirecTV will be able to get three-month free trial of the HBO Max service but this will exclude those on cheapest TV packages.
Those with AT&T’s Internet 1000 home broadband or Unlimited Elite wireless plan will similarly have HBO Max included, while those with other home broadband or wireless plans will get a one-month free trial.
What if you pay through third-party or cable providers
It doesn’t matter whether you have HBO Now or HBO from a cable provider, the price is generally the same which is US$14.99 every month and that price is also the same as a new HBO Max subscription which means if you’re paying for HBO and not getting it bundled for free, you can just switch to being billed directly by HBO or just cancel it through your current third-party method of subscription and then sign up for a new account when the HBO Max finally launches after all, it’s still the same US$14.99.
The cost differences pretty much cancel out and HBO Max gives more for your money, particularly if you have HBO Now and are not being billed directly by HBO. The experience for watching could be as simple as just swapping the Now app for the Max app, which makes the switch a no-brainer.
And if you want to save, you can just cancel your existing HBO or HBO Now subscription and then sign up for the HBO Max Preorder where you’ll be able to get HBO Now for US$12 per month for the next year instead of US$14.99/month normal billing rate. If you have HBO Now or planned on getting HBO Max, this can save you a quick $36.
But then if you’re a cable user, and you prefer watching using TV on Channels instead of the application, the transition is slightly more complicated and will mean you use device like Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast or Apple TV to get the service onto your TV instead of just switching over channels. While these devices can be found at fairly affordable prices, it does mean having to switch between different inputs when navigating between the HBO and regular TV.