HBO Max: It’s expensive but there’s lots to watch and you might even get it for free


Netflix is the king of streaming, but in recent years the competition has really piled on! The latest is called HBO Max. It has a big library of movies and TV shows, and since it’s part of AT&T, you might even get it for free depending on what you are already subscribed to.

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The service, which launched this week with 10,000 hours of content, has a mix of old and new items to watch. The popular Friends series is front and center and you get everything you used to get with HBO.

I hate to say this, but I think a better name for this streaming service might have been HBO Plus. You’re getting HBO plus a LOT more for basically the same price.

“This is probably the biggest streaming launch since Disney+ last November. So it’s gonna have a lot of content and it’s definitely designed to compete with Netflix, Amazon and Disney Plus,” said Tim Baysinger, senior TV reporter at The Wrap.

HBO Max is mostly competing on content. There is a ton to watch and there are plenty of recognizable properties in its library. Everything from big brands including Warner Bros., DC, CNN, TNT, TBS to the Cartoon Network, Looney Tunes, and more. Then, there are originals like a romantic comedy series starring Anna Kendrick and a late-night show hosted by Elmo.

Unlike Netflix, shows aren’t “dropped” all at once. Right now there are the first three episodes of the originals available.

“So I think if you’re a fan of HBO, I think it’s a no-brainer. For the people who never were really turned on by HBO, I think they’re gonna be a harder sell,” says Baysinger.

At $15 dollars a month, HBO Max is one of the most expensive streaming services. But here’s the thing: if you’ve been paying for HBO over the years as a cable customer, you get access to HBO Max. Ditto for most who subscribe to HBO NOW. Your subscription now includes HBO Max.

There are also many other ways to get HBO Max if you’re an AT&T customer. Here are the AT&T family of plans that include HBO Max for no extra charge:

  • AT&T Unlimited Elite wireless plan
  • AT&T Internet 1000 (their fiber/gigabit plan)
  • AT&T TV PREMIER (coming soon)
  • AT&T TV Now Max
  • DIRECTV PREMIER (satellite TV plan)
  • U-verse U400, U450 (cable TV service)

Here is the article that tells you how to set up HBO Max access if you get it through an AT&T wireless plan. Here is the article that can help you with the other access methods, like internet or TV.

Additionally, if you subscribe to HBO through your cable company, chances are you can use your cable company login to access HBO Max. So, before you sign up, be sure to check to see if you’re already a subscriber!

Basically, you should be able to sign in on this page with your username and password from the AT&T or third party service you subscribe to.

graphic courtesy AT&T

By the way, if all of this seems super complicated, that’s because it sort of is. AT&T has a lot of work to do to streamline some of this process and the confusion surrounding four different brands – HBO, HBO Go, HBO NOW and HBO Max.

The HBO Max app itself is nowhere as slick as Netflix. It seems to be a mix of the HBO app and the AT&T TV Now app. Again, right now this service is all about the content. There are no pleasantries like skip intro or related titles and even the search isn’t very good.

HBO Max currently works on Android and iOS devices, Chromecast and Apple TV. Right now, there is no support for Roku or Amazon Fire TV, two of the biggest streaming platforms. I fully expect this to change any day now as the tech giants hammer out their differences.

Until then, here’s a list of supported devices for HBO Max:

  • Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch
  • Android phone and tablets
  • PC with Windows 7 or later
  • Mac with macOS X 10.10 (Yosemite) or later
  • Google Chromebooks
  • The latest version of Chrome or Firefox
  • The latest version of Microsoft Edge for Windows
  • Safari version 10 or later
  • Android TV
  • Apple TV
  • PlayStation 4
  • Samsung TV (2016 models and later)
  • Xbox One
  • Chromecast
  • Airplay
  • HDMI cable with computer, phone or tablet to TV

“They might not be in as good of a place as Disney, but I think they’re in a better place than most and this should be viewed more as a long-term play versus a short-term play,” concluded Baysinger.

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