HBO Max History, Technologies and accessibility, Reception, free

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HBO Max is an American subscription video-on-demand streaming service owned by AT&T’s WarnerMedia through its WarnerMedia Direct subsidiary. The service was launched on May 27, 2020, in the United States and in Latin America and the Caribbean on June 29, 2021. Built around content from the renowned premium television service HBO, Max serves primarily as a content hub for WarnerMedia’s various film and television properties, as well as a range of original programming and library content from the company. Provides additional content licensed through third-party distributors.

According to AT&T, HBO and HBO Max had a total of 67.5 million paying subscribers globally as of June 30, 2021, including 43.5 million HBO Max subscribers in the US, 3.5 million HBO-only US customers (primarily hotels) such as commercial customers). and 20.5 million subscribers to HBO Max or HBO itself in other countries.


HBO Max:
Type of site
OTT video streaming platform
Predecessor(s) HBO Go (United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean only)
DC Universe


Country of origin United States
Area served United States
Latin America
Owner AT&T
Key people Casey Bloys (Chief Content Officer)
Andy Forssell (head of business operations)
Parent WarnerMedia Direct
WarnerMedia (spin-out into an independent entity to be named Warner Bros. Discovery pending, to be merged with Discovery, Inc.)
Users Increase 67.5 million
(as of June 30, 2021)
Launched May 27, 2020; 15 months ago

HBO Max History

On October 10, 2018, WarnerMedia announced that it would launch an over-the-top streaming service featuring content from its entertainment brands in late 2019. The original plan for the service called for a late 2019 launch. The parent of WarnerMedia, AT&T President and CEO Randall L. Stephenson indicated in mid-May 2019 that it would use the HBO brand and join cable operators as HBO cable subscribers would have access to the streaming service. Beta in the fourth quarter of 2019 and a full launch was expected in the first quarter of 2020 at the time.

Otter Media was transferred from Warner Bros. to WarnerMedia Entertainment in May 2019, replacing Brad Bentley, the streaming service as executive vice president and general manager of direct-to-consumer development, after six months. Andy Forsell was replaced as Otter’s chief operating officer and Bentley as executive vice president and general manager, while still reporting to Otter CEO Tony Goncalves, who will lead development.

On July 9, 2019, WarnerMedia announced that the service would be known as HBO Max, and would launch in the spring of 2020, while Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and Greg Berlanti were signed production deals for the service.

(The “Max” moniker is shared with HBO’s sister linear pay television service Cinemax, which has been alternately identified by its suffix name since the mid-1980s and was used prominently in its branding from 2008 to 2011. On October 29, 2019, it was announced that HBO Max would officially launch in May 2020.

On January 8, 2020, AT&T announced that Audience, a channel exclusive to subscribers of AT&T-owned television providers such as DirecTV with some original programming, would sunset on May 22, eventually becoming a sequel to HBO Max. Barker will convert to the channel.

Warner Bros. and HBO Max announced on February 5, 2020, the Warner Max film label will produce eight to ten mid-budget films per year for the streaming service starting in 2020. On April 20, 2020, WarnerMedia announced the launch date of HBO Max for May 27.

Later that year, on 23 October, it was announced that WarnerMedia would merge the Warner Max label into Warner Bros. Pictures Group with its development and production team led by its president Toby Emmerich and Warner Bros.

Pictures’ Courteney Valenti, Richard Brenner. Later decided to consolidate. Of New Line and Walter Hamada, who oversees the DC-based films, were hired to oversee the company’s entire film output, both theatrical and streaming releases. On April 23, 2021, WarnerMedia announced that Adult Swim would merge with HBO Max’s adult animation development teams led by Susannah Makos.

Technologies and accessibility

At launch, HBO Max did not support 4K, HDR, or Dolby Atmos, but support for these technologies was planned “as part of the HBO Max product roadmap”. Support for 4K, HDR, and Atmos was added with the release of Wonder Woman 1984, WarnerMedia promised to add more content in these formats throughout 2021.

The service provided closed captioning support at launch, but initially lacked support for audio description (AD) for the visually impaired. In October 2020, the American Council of the Blind announced that it had entered into an agreement with WarnerMedia, under which at least 1,500 hours of HBO Max content will be available with AD by the end of March 2021, which is March 2023. will increase to at least 6,000 hours. Along with other accessibility enhancements to the website and apps by September 2021. HBO Max later began rolling out Eddie on select titles on March 26, 2021.


HBO Max received a mixed reception from media observers upon launch. The range of content available was generally well-received, but many commented on the potential for confusion with HBO’s other excluded streaming platforms, HBO Go and HBO Now, and other newly launched streaming platforms such as Disney+. The higher subscription price of the service as compared to the platform.  Television critics have also expressed disappointment that the original series library for the Cinemax sister network is not available on HBO Max.

AT&T announced in July 2020 that HBO Max had nominally achieved 26.6 million subscribers after its first month of operation, including 23.6 million wholesale subscribers, primarily legacy HBO Pay TV customers who were owed by the new agreements.

There were covers that added access to HBO Max at no extra charge. However, only 4.1 million subscribers had activated their HBO Max accounts as of that date. The latter figure was seen as a disappointment by many observers, especially within a day of Disney+’s launch. In light of reaching 10 million subscribers; New York Times media critic Ben Smith wrote that WarnerMedia had “failed miserably” at the launch.

However, AT&T executives argued that it cites an increase in subscriber engagement compared to HBO Now and an overall increase in total subscriptions at the end of HBO or HBO Max (36.3 million, versus 34.6 million HBO or HBO Now subscribers). 2019), acknowledging that there’s a lot more to do to convince existing HBO customers to start using the HBO Max app.

Executives previously noted that HBO Max was starting from a different niche than other streaming services because it was building on the existing HBO subscriber base, and HBO’s many pre-existing deals (such as with Amazon and). Roku).

In October 2020, AT&T revealed that the number of active HBO Max subscribers had reached 8.6 million by the end of September, while the number of nominal (eligible) subscribers had reached 28.7 million.

US The total number of HBO/HBO Max subscriptions in the U.S. also increased to 28 million. The next month reaching an agreement with Amazon (which is reported to have 5 million HBO subscribers via Prime Video channels). were), the number of HBO Max-eligible subscribers has grown to over 33 million.

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