HBO Max, the new streaming service from AT&T-owned WarnerMedia, finally arrives tomorrow, coming onto the scene as much of the country remains home, watching television far more than usual due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
For the company’s big bet on streaming, executives are hopeful that they can scale up fast by using an existing base of HBO subscribers, which totals around 34 million in the U.S., to bolster early numbers. AT&T is encouraging customers to shift their subscriptions over to HBO Max, which costs the same as a standard HBO plan, at $14.99 per month. But for anyone eager to access the company’s extensive library of content, which will include titles like Friends and The Big Bang Theory along with several original shows, it might require a little legwork to get set up.
Primarily, the ability to get access to HBO Max tomorrow depends on a consumer’s existing relationship with the company and through which providers they want to access the new service. It will be a much more complicated transition if you pay for HBO through a cable provider that does not yet have an HBO Max agreement with AT&T than one that does.
Here’s how new and existing customers alike will be able to get on HBO Max come Wednesday:
If you’re not already an HBO or HBO Now customer…
Entirely new subscribers to the service will be able to sign up for HBO Max directly via HBOMax.com, where the company has been offering a discounted $11.99 per month preorder promotion, which expires early on Wednesday.
New customers who don’t want the direct-to-consumer option can also sign up through several television service providers, including AT&T, Altice, Charter, Cox Contour, DirecTV, Hulu, Optimum, Spectrum Suddenlink, Verizon Fios and YouTube TV. HBO Max will appear as add-ons in those providers’ various television and mobile interfaces. (And if you’re an AT&T customer but don’t already have HBO, you may be eligible for a free trial of Max.)
The service will also be available as a downloadable app in Apple’s app store, the Google Play store and the Samsung Galaxy store. Customers will be able to subscribe through these partners and stream directly on their devices or cast to supported connected TVs.
HBO Max is supported on Android phones and tablets, Android TV, Apple TV (fourth generation and later), Chromecast, computer browsers, iOS devices, Xbox One, Sony Playstation 4 and select Samsung smart TVs. But customers who want to watch HBO Max through video game consoles like the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One will not be able to sign up through those platforms; instead, customers should use login credentials they’ve set up elsewhere to be able to watch on those devices.
However, customers looking to get HBO Max through Amazon Fire, Comcast TV and Roku are out of luck. Max is not presently supported through those distributors, though that could change at a later date.
“We are doing everything in our power to make HBO Max available to as many customers as possible, and our distribution team is hard at work trying to complete additional deals before launch,” a spokesperson for HBO Max said.
If you currently subscribe to HBO Now…
Customers with a subscription to HBO Now, HBO’s direct-to-consumer streaming service, will automatically have their HBO Now app updated to HBO Max on most platforms, according to the company. Those customers will be able to log in to HBO Max using their existing login credentials with the company, which will not need to be updated.
“Existing HBO Now direct-billed customers, as well as those who are billed through Apple, Google Play, Samsung, Optimum and Verizon Fios internet will get instant access to HBO Max tomorrow at no extra cost, with the HBO Now app automatically updating to the HBO Max app on supported devices,” according to a spokesperson for HBO Max. “HBO Now will continue to exist on platforms where we don’t yet have distribution deals in place.”