Goodbye, HBO Max: Warner Bros. Discovery announced yesterday a new streaming service – Max – that combines HBO Max with Discovery+ into a single platform. But there was no good news for UK viewers.
As with the existing HBO Max, despite the upcoming international expansion of Max in 2024, the UK won’t be getting it until 2025, at the earliest – although you can still expect to watch some of the newly announced shows – via Sky in the UK.
The new combined streaming service, which is set to launch in the US on May 23, 2023 will bring together the critically acclaimed scripted content of HBO and HBO Max, with the unscripted and lifestyle-focused content of Discovery+.
Despite HBO being such a well-known brand, the name of the service is changing to ‘Max’ since – reportedly – HBO wasn’t considered a “family-friendly” brand, with its range of violent, grown-up shows geared towards adults.
Max will offer three subscription tiers, with and without ads – and its pricing (starting at $9.99/month) may hint at what we will eventually see in the UK (see full details below).
And, with Discovery+ also now behind BT Sport in the UK – which will fold into Discovery+ under the name TNT Sports in July – the combined service may hold even greater value on our side of the pond. But that’s when – and IF – it ever comes here.
HBO Max And Discovery+ Merging Into ‘Max’
HBO Max is a popular American streaming service that features content from HBO (the long-running premium cable network), as well as content from other platforms – DC, Warner and more.
So in addition to HBO classics like The Sopranos and Game of Thrones, and newer hits like Succession, HBO Max also has a diverse library of HBO Max originals, such as Station Eleven, The Flight Attendant, Peacemaker and others.
HBO Max is also available in several European and Latin American countries, including Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Spain and more. In the UK, the only way to currently get HBO Max is by using a VPN.
Discovery+ is a streaming service that launched in the US in January 2021 (and even before that – in 2020 – in the UK). It focuses on lifestyle, factual and – in the UK – sports content, with its Eurosport category.
In 2022, Discovery finalised its purchase of Warner Bros. (from AT&T), and plans to merge HBO Max and Discovery+ into a single brand were announced shortly after the deal was finalised.
This week, the company revealed the name of the new combined service – Max – along with details about its pricing tiers.
The HBO brand isn’t going away – and new shows will still get produced under its name, and will then appear as “HBO Originals” on Max.
Max, which will include all the content from the existing HBO Max service as well as Discovery+, will offer three tiers for new customers in the US:
- Max Ad-Lite – $9.99/month or $99.99/year, with 2 concurrent streams, 1080p resolution, no offline downloads, 5.1 surround sound quality.
- Max Ad Free – $15.99/month or $149.99/year, with 2 concurrent streams, 1080 resolution, 30 offline downloads, 5.1 surround sound quality
- Max Ultimate Ad Free – $19.99/month or $199.99/year – 4 concurrent streams, up to 4K UHD resolution, 100 offline downloads, Dolby Atmos sound quality
Existing HBO Max subscribers will have access to Max at the same price they’re currently paying, with their current plan features staying around for at least six months (after Max’s launch).
New Shows Coming To Max
Along with the new name and pricing options, Warner Bros. Discovery also announced new content that will be coming to Max:
- A Max Original Harry Potter series
- A Max Original comedy series derived from The Big Bang Theory
- An HBO Original Game of Thrones prequel series – A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight
- A Max Original drama series based on The Conjuring films
- Magnolia Network’s Fixer Upper: The Hotel
- Discovery Channel’s Survive the Raft
- Max Original Peter & the Wolf from U2’s Bono
- Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty: The Anime
- Investigation Discovery’s Lost Women of Highway 20
- Cartoon Network’s Tiny Toons Looniversity
- TLC’s Love & Translation.
‘Max’ In The UK: Not Before 2025
Regarding the further international expansion of Max, Warner Bros. Discovery said yesterday that “we’ll begin rolling out in international markets where HBO Max is currently available, starting with Latin America later in 2023, followed by select countries across Europe and Asia in 2024.”
But unless there are significant changes, Max won’t be coming to the UK, at least until 2025.
The reason? Long-term licensing deals were signed with Sky (and its streaming service, NOW), long before HBO Max even existed.
These licensing deals have been in place since 2010, and are set to remain until at least 2025 (The extension to this deal was announced back in 2019, making Sky (and NOW) “the UK home of existing and upcoming HBO productions, as well as productions from HBO Max.”)
Therefore, most of HBO’s content can be found on Sky: from Game of Thrones and its prequel series House Of The Dragon, to DC shows such as Peacemaker, as well as Warner Bros. films.
And while the previous Warner Bros. administration kept hinting that they might look to change the existing deals with Sky – the new administration sounds quite content with the current situation, at least so far.
In August 2022, CEO David Zaslav talked of Warner Bros. “legacy” of selling content. “We want to sell to third parties”, he said, “It’s a very profitable business for us. We think it could be more profitable.”
Jean-Briac Perrette, President & CEO of Discovery International, even talked specifically about the Sky deal at the time:
“We obviously have multiple years left in our existing and important and long-standing relationship with them. And so we don’t have to deal with that question at this point. Sky, the deal, is outside of the 2025 time horizon that we gave you projections on.
“And so as we get closer to the end of that deal, we will certainly come back to you with further thoughts on how we go to market in those three markets.”
Therefore, in theory, Warner Bros. Discovery may even decide to continue its deal with Sky, and not bring Max to the UK at all – but that remains to be seen, with more news to follow in the future.
As for Discovery+ in the UK – the platform is getting ready to swallow BT Sport, which will transform into TNT Sports in July. At that point, it will move under the Discovery+ streaming service, where Eurosport also resides.
The linear BT Sport channels, which are available via pay-TV companies such as Sky and Virgin Media will continue to exist – but the streaming service will be a part of the Discovery+ platform.
Therefore, if Max ever launchs in the UK – we might get a triple offering of Max/HBO, Discovery+ with Eurosport, AND the former BT Sport.
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