WarnerMedia announces HBO Max streaming service

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On Tuesday, AT&T subsidiary WarnerMedia announced that it will launch a new streaming service called HBO Max next year. With it, the multimedia company hopes to compete with leading subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services like Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix. Accordingly, the new platform will host a raft of content from Cartoon Network, CNN, Crunchyroll, The CW, HBO, TNT, TruTV, and Warner Bros.

The Rundown on HBO Max

Although the SVOD market is very competitive, WarnerMedia is making an appealing pitch to consumers. Once the service launches in the spring of 2020, it will host 10,000 hours of video content. Though the firm hasn’t published a comprehensive list of its offerings, the platform will feature a variety of popular movies and TV shows.

HBO Max will host HBO mainstays like “Big Little Lies,” “Westworld,” and “The Sopranos.” Moreover, the platform will be the exclusive streaming home of impending new CW series like “Batwoman” and “Katy Keene.” The streaming service’s library will also boast popular legacy series like “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Pretty Little Liars.”

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Additionally, beloved NBC comedy “Friends” will migrate to the platform from its current home on Netflix. The streaming giant spent $100 million to host the sitcom throughout 2019. However, WarnerMedia has decided to make the program a cornerstone of its SVOD and will pay $85 million a year to stream it on HBO Max.

The multimedia corporation is hoping to entice Netflix’s customers by adopting a similar broad content strategy. The service’s initial offerings will include titles like “Sesame Street,” “A Star is Born,” “Impractical Jokers,” “Happy Feet,” “Shazam,” “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” and “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.”

Original Content

WarnerMedia doesn’t intend HBO Max to be a reservoir for content it distributes through other channels. Indeed, the corporation wants its SVOD to be the video stream of choice for 70 to 80 million people. Accordingly, the platform is debuting several prestigious original series in its first year.

Judging by the pedigree of its programming, HBO Max will be a real challenger to forthcoming services like Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus. The service’s slate of “Max Originals” includes:

Dune: The Sisterhood”: This program is a spin-off of director Denis Villeneuve’s forthcoming film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s “Dune.” “The Sisterhood” is a sci-fi series that will follow an elite order of powerful women as they arrive at the mysterious planet, Arrakis.

The Flight Attendant”: Adapted from the Chris Bohjalian novel of the same name, this limited series is a mystery thriller. Created by and starring “The Big Bang Theory’s” Kaley Cuoco, the program follows stewardess Cassandra Bowden after she wakes up hungover in a dead man’s bed.

Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai”: This show is a new animated prequel to the 1984 horror-comedy classic “Gremlins.” Former “Gotham” scribe Tze Chun will write the series, which is set in 1920s Shanghai.

Love Life”: From filmmaker Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids”), “Love Life” is a romantic comedy anthology series that will star Anna Kendrick (“A Simple Favor”).

Station Eleven”: Based on Emily St. John Mandel’s post-apocalyptic novel, the story is set in a world devastated by a swine flu pandemic. The series will be written by “Maniac’s” Patrick Somerville and directed by “Atlanta’s” Hiro Murai.

Tokyo Vice”: This 10-part series is based on Jake Alderson’s memoir “Tokyo Vice.” The show details the adventures of an American journalist (Ansel Elgort) assigned to cover the work of the Tokyo Police Department’s vice squad.

The End of an Era

While WarnerMedia’s HBO Max announcement did contain a lot of information, it left out one key fact. The firm didn’t reveal how much it will charge consumers to access its wealth of premium TV shows and movies. However, the SVOD will cost more than the $14.99-a-month HBO Now.

As such, the platform’s launch will mark the end of the all-in-one era of streaming video. Currently, consumers interested in watching “Friends,” “Stranger Things,” “The Office,” and the latest Marvel movies can do so by subscribing to Netflix. Indeed, the service’s wide variety of quality content allowed it to supplant broadcast television as America’s favorite video distribution platform.

However, in two years, viewers will need to subscribe to HBO Max, Netflix, and NBCUniversal’s upcoming SVOD to access that same content. After years of letting a few significant platforms license their content, Hollywood is Balkanizing its films and TV shows. As a result, consumers must soon pay $44-$50 a month to stream the media they now access for $8.99.

Consequently, the notion of streaming services being a cheaper, more convenient option than traditional pay-TV will soon be anachronistic.