For the past several years, AT&T has struggled to find its way in today’s ever-shifting entertainment landscape. The company acquired satellite TV provider DirecTV in 2015. By that time, pay-TV subscribers were already starting to migrate to streaming services. Now, AT&T seems to be pinning all of its hopes on its upcoming streaming service: HBO Max. Keep reading to learn how HBO Max will improve upon HBO’s main streaming service, HBO Now.
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HBO Now vs. HBO Max: four key differences
The main difference between HBO Now and HBO Max boils down to content. When it debuted back in 2015, HBO Now had about 2,000 titles. Compare that to HBO Max, which will offer 10,000 hours of content to binge through when in launches next year.
There will be some feature improvements, as well. HBO Now currently doesn’t let you create separate profiles for individual account users. As a result, sharing your account with others can become a bit of a hassle. The creators of HBO Max hope to fix that issue by letting subscribers set up customized home pages within the HBO Max app, which can easily be shared with others. A new recommendation system is on the way as well, along with a content download feature that will let subscribers view movies and TV shows offline.
Further down the line, HBO will give HBO Max subscribers the ability to watch live news and sports feeds. WarnerMedia has existing relationships with various sports leagues, including the NBA, Major League Baseball and the NCAA. HBO could take advantage of these links when it expands into live TV.
Some possible subscription plan changes may eventually affect HBO Max, as well. According to a press release, HBO Max will work AVOD (Advertisement-based Video On-demand) into the platform. The press release goes on to state that the addition of AVOD will allow subscribers to “access even more content” and “manage the overall price value options” that HBO Max will offer.
HBO Now vs. HBO Max: pricing will stay the same
One thing that HBO Now and HBO Max will have in common is price. For the time being, HBO Max will cost $15/month. That’s the same price that HBO Now subscribers are paying now.
If HBO Max follows in the footsteps of other streaming services, the $15/month price point probably won’t last long. Streaming services often roll out price increases after they start attracting users.
Netflix, for example, has implemented nine price hikes since 2012. AT&T’s other streaming service DirecTV Now increased its prices before rebranding to AT&T TV Now a few months ago. Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, fuboTV and others have increased their subscription fees as well.
HBO Now vs. HBO Max: some HBO Now subscribers will be able to access HBO Max for free
After HBO Max comes out, it’ll be hard to imagine a practical purpose for HBO Now. After all, you can purchase subscriptions to both services for the same amount of money. Since HBO Max will have far more content, why would anyone go with HBO Now over HBO Max?
It may well be that AT&T has some type of plan for HBO Now that they haven’t announced yet. Last summer, a representative from HBO told Fast Company:
“Nothing will happen with HBO Go or HBO Now. HBO Max will be a distinct offering. As a distinct offering, you would not automatically become a Max subscriber.”
Several months later, it’s still true that HBO Now subscribers won’t get upgraded automatically. On the other hand, a FAQ page on the HBO Max website indicates that HBO intends to let most HBO Now subscribers to switch to HBO Max for free. The only HBO Now subscribers that won’t be able to switch are the ones that have subscribed though Roku, Apple and other third-party streaming services.
HBO Now vs. HBO Max: HBO Max will have more content
One of HBO Max’s main attractions will likely be Max Originals– films and shows that are only available to HBO Max subscribers.
The surprising number of cartoons and animated shows that HBO Max intends to roll out next year seems to suggest that it wants to compete with Disney Plus. A large number of original comedy shows and casual TV series are currently in production, as well.
Another interesting thing about Max Originals is that most of them will be series. There are only a handful of exclusive movies that are currently in production. One reason for this could be that HBO’s parent company Warner Brothers will be providing a slew of movies for the service.
The fact that Friends, Doctor Who and South Park will be a part of the HBO Max catalog demonstrates that AT&T is willing to pay top dollar to bring in popular shows from other production companies.
HBO Now subscribers can watch most– but not all– of HBO’s in-house films and series. Tales from the Crypt, Tenacious D, 1st & Ten, Da Ali G Show and The Ricky Gervais Show, for example, are not a part of HBO Now’s catalog. Whether or not these titles will appear on HBO Max remains to be seen.
HBO Now vs. HBO Max: What about HBO Go?
When HBO Max debuts next year, it’ll become HBO’s third streaming service. This has caused confusion among some, since the differences among these streaming services are not immediately obvious.
The main thing that makes HBO Go unique is the way you access it. The HBO Go app is free, but you need a cable or streaming service that carries HBO to log into it. In other words, HBO Go is not an over-the-top app.
In contrast, HBO Now and HBO Max are both standalone apps. You don’t have to have a preexisting cable or streaming service subscription to use it. Once you agree to pay the monthly fee, you’re in.
In terms of content, HBO Go is exactly the same as HBO Now. Both services have all the same TV shows and movies. When HBO Now debuted, it had around 2,000 titles. When HBO Max comes out, it will have much more content. AT&T says that HBO Max will have 10,000 hours of TV shows and movies at launch.