HBO opening up hundreds of hours of content as part of ‘#StayHomeBoxOffice’ effort

As part of the ongoing “Stay Home” effort, HBO is opening up hundreds of hours of its programming for free via its streaming platforms to help keep viewers entertained during the coronavirus outbreak.

The offering starts Friday, April 3, 2020, and includes the full run of hits such as “The Sopranos,” “Veep,” “Six Feet Under,” “Silicon Valley” and more.

Also available will be 20 Warner Bros. theatrical releases including “Lego Movie 2,” “The Bridges of Madison County,” “Happy Feet Two,” “Pokémon Detective Pikachu” plus 10 documentaries and docuseries including “The Apollo,” “Elvis Presley: The Searcher,” “McMillion$” and “I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter.”

The free offering, which is being branded as “#StayHomeBoxOffice,” will be available via HBO Go and HBO Now apps available for a variety of smartphones and tablets, smart TVs and streaming devices.

HBO says it will be available for free, without any login required, on participating distribution partners’ platforms. Some platforms may not be active April 3.

It’s worth noting this is offering is distinct from “free preview” periods that HBO has offered in the past — in that it’s only available via streaming and will not open up the network’s linear feeds typically available for an additional fee on cable, satellite and OTT providers.

The offering comes about a month before the planned May 2020 launch of HBO parent WarnerMedia’s streaming service branded under the HBO Max name — so it could be an opportunity for WarnerMedia to plug that service and show off some its offerings in addition to help aiding social distancing efforts.

HBO Max is slated to have over 10,000 hours of content, including a vast library culled from Warner Bros., HBO and other WarnerMedia properties as well as original programming.

HBO Max is slated to become the streaming home of the top show “Friends” — and the network is also planning a reunion special featuring the sitcom’s entire original cast, which has since been delayed due to the pandemic.

HBO Go is the “TV Everywhere” version of HBO that allows existing linear TV subscribers to stream the network’s content.

HBO Now, meanwhile, is a standalone streaming service that lets those without linear TV service (“cord cutters”) to receive HBO programming for a monthly fee.

For the purpose of the limited free “Stay Home” offering, it appears HBO Go and HBO Now will essentially be treated the same.