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Everything We Know About HBO Max Streaming Service

Streamer due in May 2020 announces price and 10,000 hours of programming. Plus, adds Studio Ghibli's entire film catalog, Doctor Who and 700 episodes of BBC Studios fare, a Gossip Girl reboot, Friends, and the HBO library.

by and | October 30, 2019 | Comments

HBO Max will launch in May 2020 with 10,000 hours of programming for $14.99 per month, WarnerMedia announced on Tuesday. The AT&T division unveiled the latest news about its streaming service to press and investors during an event on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank.

The presentation featured announcements about more new originals from Ridley Scott, Greg Berlanti, Mindy Kaling, Elizabeth Banks, Issa Rae, Conan O’Brien, Looney Tunes, and  Cartoon Network Studios.

Plus, existing AT&T HBO customers and HBO Now direct-billed subscribers will get HBO Max at no additional cost, and customers who subscribe to AT&T’s premium video, mobile, and broadband packages will be offered bundles at launch with HBO Max at no additional costs.

The event also revealed that Game of Thrones prequel series House of Dragons was given a 10-episode straight-to-series order. Based on George R.R. Martin’s book Fire & Blood, the series, which is set 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones, tells the story of House Targaryen and is co-created by Martin and Ryan Condal (Colony). Emmy award-winning director Miguel Sapochnik and Condal will partner as showrunners and will also serve as executive producers along with and Vince Gerardis. Sapochnik will direct the pilot and additional episodes of the series, which will be written by Condal. (Read more.)

In mid-October, the service had announced multiple deals and new projects, including U.S. streaming rights to Studio Ghibli Films (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle), Grease: Rydell High musical spin-off series, Melissa McCarthy film Superintelligence, first-run of Sesame Street season 51 episodes next year, and more.

Here’s what we know so far…


When Does It Launch and How Much Does It Cost?

Game of Thrones, season 5, episode 2 photo: courtesy of HBO

WarnerMedia has not provided an exact date for the HBO Max launch, but announced that it will bow in May 2020 and will be available to U.S. customers for $14.99 per month.

At launch, AT&T will immediately offer HBO Max to the roughly 10 million HBO subscribers on AT&T distribution platforms, at no additional charge. HBO Now direct-billed users who subscribe directly through HBONow.com will also be given access. AT&T customers on premium video, mobile and broadband services will be offered bundles with HBO Max included at no additional charge. The company said it is also in discussions with its distributors and hope to offer their customers seamless access to the product.

The company is aiming for 50 million domestic subscribers and 75-90 million premium subscribers by year-end 2025 across the U.S., Latin America, and Europe.


Originals Line-up

Gossip Girl season 1 keyart (Warner Bros. Television)
(Photo by Warner Bros. Television)

HBO Max Originals announced during WarnerMedia Day:

  • The Fungies! – from Stephen Neary and Cartoon Network Studios, is a prehistoric comedy that explores Fungietown through the whimsical quests of Seth, a young student at Fungietown Elementary.
  • Tig N’ Seek – from Myke Chilian and Cartoon Network Studios is about 8-year-old Tiggy and his gadget-building cat, Gweeseek, as they search for the lost items of Wee Gee City. With Tiggy’s cheerful attitude and Gweeseek’s exceptional inventing capabilities, the duo humorously navigate day-to-day dilemmas at the Department of Lost and Found.
  • Tooned Out – executive produced by Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Cast Away, Back to the Future), is a half-hour, hybrid live-action and animated comedy. Things get a little cartoony for Mac when he starts seeing iconic cartoon characters in his life, but they’re not just there for laughs, they’re helping him get through a very rough patch in his life.
  • Looney Tunes Cartoons – an all-new series of 80 eleven-minute episodes and holiday-themed specials from Warner Bros. Animation starring the cherished classic Looney Tunes characters for today’s kids. Iconic characters will include Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Tweety, Sylvester, Granny, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Tasmanian Devil, Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote and many more.
  • Jellystone – a new animated children’s comedy series from Warner Bros. Animation that will welcome viewers to the town of Jellystone, where their favorite Hanna-Barbera characters live, work, play, and stir up trouble together.
  • DC Super Hero High – a half-hour comedy series executive produced by Elizabeth Banks (Charlie’s Angels, Pitch Perfect, Shrill), which follows a group of students experiencing the fun and drama of adolescence at a boarding school for gifted kids. These teens are just trying to navigate the pressures of high school, but none of them realize that someday they will become legendary DC Super Heroes.
  • Rap Sh*t (working title) – from Issa Rae (Insecure, A Black Lady Sketch Show) is a half-hour comedy series that follows a female rap group from outside of Miami trying to make it in the music industry.
  • College Girls (working title) – the latest series from Mindy Kaling (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Late Night, The Mindy Project, The Office), is a 13-episode half-hour, single-camera comedy following three 18-year-old freshman roommates at Evermore College in Vermont who are equal parts lovable and infuriating.
  • Strange Adventures – a DC Super Hero anthology series executive produced by Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Titans, Doom Patrol), will feature characters from across the DC canon. This one-hour drama series will explore close-ended morality tales about the intersecting lives of mortals and superhumans.
  • A Green Lantern–inspired series – from Berlanti Productions, the series will finally introduce characters from this iconic comic in Berlanti’s biggest series yet.
  • A series of stand-up specials – presented by Conan O’Brien, the series will feature five new comedy specials. O’Brien will host two specials, featuring short sets from multiple up-and-coming comics while also curating one-hour sets from three comedians. In addition HBO Max has purchased the rights to a one-hour special from comedian James Veitch.
  • Raised by Wolves – an epic serialized sci-fi series executive produced and directed by Ridley Scott (The Martian, Blade Runner, Alien: Covenant) centering on two androids tasked with raising human children on a mysterious virgin planet.
  • Bobbie Sue – is a feature-length film starring Golden Globe–winner Gina Rodriquez (Jane the Virgin) following the story of a headstrong young lawyer who lands a career-making case with an upper crust law firm, only to realize she’s been hired for optics and not her expertise.

Previously announced HBO Max originals:

  • Let Them All Talk (working title) – an original film directed by Oscar and Emmy award-winner Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Behind the Candelabra) about a celebrated author (Meryl Streep) who takes a journey with some old friends (Candice Bergen and Dianne Weist) to have some fun and heal old wounds. Her nephew (Lucas Hedges) comes along to wrangle the ladies and finds himself involved with a young literary agent (Gemma Chan).
  • UNpregnant – adapted from the young adult HarperCollins novel authors Jenni Hendriks (How I Met Your Mother) and Ted Caplan (music editor for The Hate U Give, The Greatest Showman), from PICTURESTART and Berlanti Productions, the film tackles complicated friendships and the difficult road to adulthood, all while in a stolen El Camino.
  • Ellen DeGeneres original series – HBO Max ordered three original shows from the Emmy-winning daytime talk show host straight to series: Ellen’s Home Design Challenge, First Dates Hotel, and Little Ellen, as well as docu-series Finding Einstein in development.
  • Grease: Rydell High – the musical spin-off series is inspired by the 1978 Golden Globe–nominated film Grease.
  • Superintelligence – an original film starring Melissa McCarthy (Spy, The Heat, Bridesmaids), the comedy is directed by Ben Falcone (Life of the Party, Tammy) and written by Steve Mallory (The Boss) and slated to premiere at the streaming service’s launch.
  • Equal – four-part docu-series that captures the gripping and true backstories of LGBTQ+ movement leaders and unsung heroes, pre-Stonewall, who changed the course of American history through their tireless activism.
  • Gossip Girl (a reboot of the title with new cast) – eight years after the original website went dark, a new generation of New York private school teens are introduced to the social surveillance of Gossip Girl. No word yet on whether original cast members will appear.
  • Dune: The Sisterhood – an adaptation of Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson’s book based in the world created by Frank Herbert’s book Dune, from director Denis Villeneuve.
  • Tokyo Vice – based on Jake Adelstein’s non-fiction first-hand account of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police beat starring Ansel Elgort.
  • The Flight Attendant – a one-hour thriller series based on the novel by Chris Bohjalian, which will star Kaley Cuoco, who is also executive producing alongside Greg Berlanti.
  • Love Life – a 10-episode half-hour romantic comedy anthology series starring Anna Kendrick, who will also executive produce alongside Paul Feig.
  • Station Eleven – a post-apocalyptic limited series based on Emily St. John Mandel’s international bestseller, adapted by Patrick Somerville and directed by Hiro Murai.
  • Made for Love – a 10-episode, half-hour, straight-to-series adaptation based on the tragicomic novel of the same name by Alissa Nutting, also from Somerville and directed by S.J. Clarkson.
  • Gremlins – an animated series from Warner Bros. Animation and Amblin Entertainment based on the original movie.
  • gen:LOCK – season 2 of the mecha animated Rooster Teeth series starring Michael B. Jordan.
  • Full Bloom – an eight-episode, hour-long competition series featuring 10 of America’s budding florists vying to be crowned America’s best.
  • CNN Original Series and CNN Films nonfiction titles –  two new documentary series Heaven’s Gate and Generation Hustle (working title) and two new original documentary features under the working titles The Scoop and Persona.
  • Birth, Wedding, Funeral – a travel docu-series that is part of an overall deal with Lisa Ling.
  • The Ho’s (working title) – Lionsgate TV docu-series follow multi-generational Ho family as they grow their Houston empire.
  • 15 Minutes of Shame – Produced by Six West, the documentary from executive producers Monica Lewinsky and Max Joseph (MTV’s Catfish) features Joseph with appearances by Lewinsky as they take an in-depth look at public shaming.
  • Expecting Amy (working title) – from Emmy award–winner Amy Schumer, the documentary takes viewers behind-the-scenes as Schumer goes through an extraordinarily difficult pregnancy while touring to prepare for a stand-up special.
  • Brad & Gary Go To… (working title) – food, travel, and fashion series will follow Brad Goreski and Gary Janetti on globe-trotting escapades.

Warner Bros. Television and Other Deals

FRIENDS, Matthew Perry, Courteney Cox Arquette, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, (Season 5), 1994-2004, © Warner Bros. / Courtesy: Everett Collection
(Photo by Warner Bros. / Courtesy: Everett Collection)

HBO Max will also include programming from Warner Bros. Television, responsible for many fan-favorite TV shows, including the CW superhero series (Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, and Black Lightning), Riverdale, and more, as well as original movies:

  • The exclusive streaming rights at launch to all 236 episodes of Friends — one of the biggest hits on television and in streaming
  • The exclusive streaming rights at launch to all episodes of fan favorites The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Pretty Little Liars
  • The exclusive streaming home to a string of new Warner Bros.-produced dramas for The CW beginning with the fall 2019 season, including the highly-anticipated new DC Entertainment series Batwoman, and Katy Keene (spin-off of Riverdale)
  • New exclusive movie production deals with Greg Berlanti, one of Hollywood’s most prolific and successful producers, and Reese Witherspoon, Academy Award and Emmy Award-winning actress and producer; Berlanti will produce an initial four movies focused in the young adult space, while Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine will produce at least two films

The HBO Library

Game of Thrones season 8, episode 6, series finale "The Iron Throne" (HBO)
(Photo by HBO)

HBO Max will be the streaming home for HBO programming, including Game of Thrones and the network’s entire library of past, current, and upcoming series.

HBO Go (for subscribers to HBO on cable) and HBO Now (for non-cable subscribers) aren’t going anywhere, according to WarnerMedia. You can also get a digital subscription to HBO through Amazon, Hulu, DirecTV Now, or PlayStation Vue — but who knows what the future holds for all of those HBO-only options once HBO Max launches.

Just a reminder of some of the HBO original series in that library:

  • Game of Thrones
  • Westworld
  • Chernobyl
  • True Detective
  • True Blood
  • The Sopranos
  • Sex and the City
  • Six Feet Under
  • Entourage
  • Deadwood
  • The Wire

That’s Not All

WONDER WOMAN, US advance poster, Gal Gadot, 2017. © Warner Bros. Pictures
(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

HBO Max will offer 10,000 hours of curated premium content anticipated at launch, also including DC Entertainment, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, and Looney Tunes. Then there are the movies from Turner Classic Movies, Warner Bros., and New Line (Wonder Woman, Shazam, A Star Is Born, and Crazy Rich Asians, among others).

HBO Max announced during the WarnerMedia Day event on October 29 that a number of classic and library titles will be coming to the streamer in its first year of launch, including: South Park, Rick & Morty, The O.C., Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Robot Chicken, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, The Bachelor, Impractical Jokers, The Closer, Rizzolli and Isles, Major Crimes, The Alienist, The West Wing, United Shades of America with Kamau Bell, This Is Life with Lisa Ling, and Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.

In addition, a collection of classics from the libraries of Looney Tunes, Merrie Melodies, and Hannah Barbara will be available at launch.


Studio Ghibli

On October 17, HBO Max announced its deal for U.S. streaming rights to the complete collection of Studio Ghibli films, which will be available as part of the streaming service’s launch.

Studio Ghibli’s catalog of films include:

  • Castle in the Sky
  • The Cat Returns
  • From Up On Poppy Hill
  • Howl’s Moving Castle
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service
  • My Neighbor Totoro
  • My Neighbors the Yamadas
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
  • Ocean Waves
  • Only Yesterday
  • Pom Poko
  • Ponyo
  • Porco Rosso
  • Princess Mononoke
  • The Secret World of Arrietty
  • Spirited Away
  • The Tale of The Princess Kaguya
  • Tales From Earthsea
  • When Marnie Was There
  • Whisper of the Heart
  • The Wind Rises (launching fall 2020)

BBC Studios

Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who Series 11 Costume Reveal (BBC America)

On August 1, HBO Max announced a deal with BBC Studios that gives the streamer exclusive rights to the current Doctor Who series. All 11 seasons of the British sci-fi hit drama will be available on the WarnerMedia streaming service at launch and will mark the SVOD premiere of season 11. As part of the deal, HBO Max will also be the exclusive SVOD home for future seasons after they air on BBC America.

In addition to Doctor Who, HBO Max has licensed 700 episodes of iconic BBC series such as The Office, Top Gear, Luther, and The Honorable Woman.


Features & Functionality

Throughout the year after its initial launch, HBO Max will roll out a variety of new features and functionalities not found on any other streaming platforms today, including:

  • Recommended By Humans – HBO Max will combine Human Powered Discovery and analytics in novel ways to make it much easier for viewers to quickly find the content they are passionate about. Here, talent and influencers will make recommendations to our users about content they love, in the form of short, authentic videos to talk about how they’ve fallen in love with it and why.
  • Co-Viewing – Research shows that many viewers are aware of how viewing with others can throw off their recommendations. HBO Max is solving this co-viewing challenge by allowing viewers to create shared homepages that are completely separate from their personal homepages, but tailored to the group’s likes and needs. They can create shared watch lists and view with members of their household without impacting their personal profiles.

HBO Max will also offer standard direct-to-consumer features, such as:

  • Content Hubs – Content hubs feature clusters of content from recognizable brands that attract passionate audiences.
  • Personalized Profiles & Homepages
  • Kids’ profiles and Parental PIN usage
  • Downloads for offline viewing

The Executives

Sarah Aubrey, head of Original Content — who reports into Kevin Reilly, Chief Content Officer of HBO Max and president, TNT, TBS, and truTV — was previously executive vice president of Original Programming for TNT, with its lineup of original dramas such as Patty Jenkins’ I Am the Night (starring Chris Pine), Claws, Animal Kingdom, and the award-winning The Alienist.

Aubrey’s new team includes Joey Chavez, executive vice president of Original Drama; Jessie Henderson, EVP of Original Feature Films; Jeniffer Kim, senior vice president of International Originals; Suzanna Makkos, EVP of Original Comedy and Animation; and Jennifer O’Connell, EVP of Original Non-Fiction and Kids. Billy Wee, SVP, Original Animation, and Nikki Reed, vice president, Kids and Family Scripted Originals will report to O’Connell.

The business operations and strategy group also reports into Reilly. It includes Eric Besner, SVP of Business Development and Strategy; Sandra Dewey, president of Business Operations and Production; Meredith Gertler, EVP of Program Strategy and Planning (who reports into Casey Bloys, president, HBO Programming, with a dual function on HBO Max); and Michael Quigley, EVP of Content Acquisitions and Strategy. Patrick Kelly, EVP of Business Affairs, will report into Dewey.

Otter Media, under CEO Tony Goncalves, will be responsible for product design, customer experience and lifecycle, acquisition and retention marketing, customer data, reporting and insights, business development, and go-to-market Strategy and business operations. Goncalves reports to Robert Greenblatt, chairman, WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-To-Consumer.


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