HBO Max is here — but it’s already confusing

By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links

HBO Max is live — at a time when demand for streaming programming has likely reached an all time high — but there’s a whole lot of confusion about who can get it for free and what exactly is available when.

The service is offering a one week free trial and then charges $15 a month after.

Fifteen bucks is typically the same price linear TV subscribers pay for HBO — as well as the standalone streaming service HBO Now.

Existing HBO subscribers may get Max at no additional cost — but that requires their pay TV provider to have a deal with HBO in place for that offer to be available.

Right now that list includes Charter, YouTube TV, Apple TV, Hulu, Altice, Verizon, Cox and an eleventh hour deal with Comcast Xfinity, among others.

AT&T, which owns HBO and WarnerMedia, will provide the service for DirecTV, U-verse, AT&T TV and AT&T TV Now subscribers as well.

That said, if you are paying for HBO on a provider who does not have a deal in place, you’ll either need to cancel your existing subscription and then sign up for HBO Max or pay for both services (it’s worth noting subscribing to just HBO Max does not add the channel to your traditional TV lineup).

HBO says it will continue to pursue deals with other providers.

At the same time, HBO is also offering a variety of special offers to existing subscribers — but even those vary.

Another level of confusion is what’s available on HBO Max. “Most” currently airing shows will be available on the platform, according to the service’s help center, with new installments of “Last Week Tonight” and “Real Time” being released at an “estimated” time each week.

WarnerMedia is also the exclusive streaming home to the entire library of hit series “Friends” and “Big Bang Theory.” Mixed in will be a variety of other series, including HBO originals, as well as content under the CNN, Sesame Street, The CW, Cartoon Network and TNT banners.

Most feature films currently airing on HBO will also be available on Max, but they will rotate out in a similar schedule as those on TV.

HBO is also creating original series and specials for the platform, though some of those have been delayed due to coronavirus.

Notably, HBO Max is not available on Amazon Fire or Roku TV at launch.