After weeks of speculation, WarnerMedia officially announces it will call its direct-to-consumer streaming service HBO Max, bringing thousands of hours of content from ranging from new original series to classic television programs like Friends. As the streaming wars heat up, with WarnerMedia entering into the fray currently dominated by the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, and with Disney+ and Apple TV+ set to be available to subscribers later in 2019, things are no doubt set to become highly competitive as services vie for those consumer dollars.
What’s becoming more and more apparent, however, is that regardless the flashy new original content these streamers are set to offer, it seems as though a significant part of any new service’s appeal will be in having the exclusive rights to older television programs casually streamed by viewers of any age. And as was recently witnessed with NBC’s exclusive acquisition of The Office for its upcoming streaming service, long-running sitcoms are a key component to the potential success of any new platform. In other words, what’s good for NBC and HBO Max is a detriment to Netflix’s subscriber base.
In addition to the announcement that Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler, and Monica will be available to stream when HBO Max launches in 2020, the service will indeed be named after what is arguably WarnerMedia’s most valuable asset — HBO. It’s also worth noting that the service’s upcoming original content will be referred to as “Max Originals,” which rather than suggesting a connection to HBO sister network Cinemax, is instead its own thing. Check out the HBO Max announcement video along with a breakdown of the original content coming in the next year:
Max Original series previously announced include:
- “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 “Pitch Perfect” star Anna Kendrick, who will also executive produce alongside Paul Feig
- “Station Eleven,” a postapocalyptic 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
Highlights of HBO programming previously announced for 2020 and 2021 include:
- Stephen King’s “The Outsider,” a dark mystery starring Ben Mendelsohn, produced and directed by Jason Bateman
- “Lovecraft Country,” a unique horror series based on a novel by Matt Ruff, written and executive produced by Misha Green, and executive produced by Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams
- “The Nevers,” Joss Whedon’s new science fiction series starring Laura Donnelly
- “The Gilded Age,” the opulent world of 1885 New York from “Downton Abbey’s” Julian Fellowes
- “Avenue 5,” high satire aboard a space-bound cruise ship from Armando Iannucci (“Veep”), starring Hugh Laurie and Josh Gad
- “The Undoing,” a psychological thriller from David E. Kelley, directed by Susanne Bier starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant
- “The Plot Against America,” reimagined history based on Phillip Roth’s novel written and executive produced by David Simon and Ed Burns, starring Winona Ryder and John Turturro
- “Perry Mason,” the classic legal drama for a new generation, executive produced by Robert Downey, Jr. and Susan Downey, with Matthew Rhys in the title role
- “I Know This Much Is True,” a complex family drama starring Mark Ruffalo playing twin brothers, one of whom has schizophrenia, based on the best-selling novel by Wally Lamb, written and directed by Derek Cianfrance.
Like Apple TV+ and Disney+, the name HBO Max signals an amped up version of the television consumers have become used to, though one that might be more familiar to those who’ve cut the cord recently. With the service set to be available in 2020 and to come complete, it will be interesting to see what consumers ultimately want from their streaming services.
HBO Max is expected to launch in the spring of 2020.