HBO and its parent company WarnerMedia have already announced the launch of HBO Max, the overhaul streaming service, which will debut on May 27, competing Netflix, Disney+, and Apple TV+, as well as other video streaming platforms. But, HBO is not new to the streaming and video-on-demand business. HBO already runs HBO Go and HBO Now, two different streaming services that divide HBO’s exclusive content for access online.
So why HBO Max and what difference does it make to launch a new streaming service? And how different these three HBO streaming platforms are from one another?
Time to find out:
HBO Now: HBO’s First Venture Into Streaming Business
HBO Now was the first time HBO experimented with cord-cutting streaming of content owned by HBO and its subsidiary properties. HBO Now was launched in 2015. HBO Now is a video-on-demand platform, wherein, subscribers can access HBO-exclusive content including films, television series, and documentaries without a cable provider subscription.
What happens is that with a regular cable connection from a cable provider such as Verizon, a consumer has to pay approximately $15 over the top of the cable bill to access HBO. Though HBO Now is also priced at a subscription price of $14.99/mo, it comes with perks. Firstly, HBO Now is accessible via an app on mobile phones, a website on personal computers, tablets, and digital media players. It helped users cut cords on HBO just like Netflix did, and back in 2015, there weren’t many entertainment channels available that did so.
Moreover, HBO Now promised exclusive, as well as fresh content before it aired on the regular cable. Thus, at the same price, as consumers would pay to a cable provider, HBO allowed them remote access to HBO content with exclusive films and series available in advance, while also cutting cords on cable. The service also has limited content from HBO partners BBC, Warner Bros. etc.
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So, What’s HBO Go?
HBO Go is a companion service to the regular cable connection of HBO. The significant difference between HBO Go and HBO Now is that HBO Now is a standalone service. However, HBO Go requires an HBO cable connection. It works like you’re watching HBO on your TV via cable, but can also access it on your smartphones and computers.
HBO Go is bundled with your HBO cable subscription, and the consumers do not have to pay for it separately. But, as in HBO Now, users can’t get exclusive HBO content on HBO Go and can only stream what is aired on the HBO cable channel.
HBO Max: The Powerhouse
In 2019, HBO announced that it would launch a more advanced and extensive streaming platform, later named HBO Max to compete in the streaming wars against planned subscription-based streaming platforms from Disney and Apple along with Netflix.
The service will have more content than the other two services as it will merge the libraries of Warner Bros. Studios, Warner Television, HBO, and all the properties under WarnerMedia under one house. The consumers will get the service at the same price as HBO Now, i.e. $14.99/mo and will receive far more and far better content from HBO Now.
Why HBO Max if HBO Now Already Exist?
HBO Now is an old brand now and remarketing and rebranding it with new content would have cost more to the studios in terms of returns than launching a fresh brand, which stays with consumers longer and has a more positive impact.
Furthermore, HBO Now was always marketed as an HBO-exclusive service. But since now WarnerMedia has taken up the streaming business in direct hands, the company thought it would be better to merge libraries and make them available on a new platform. This is the reason, HBO Now consumers will get HBO Max directly without paying for it additionally.
Furthermore, HBO Max may not have been possible a few years ago. In 2016, the entire Time Warner Inc., the parent company of HBO and WarnerMedia was acquired by AT&T. HBO Max could have been the decision of new corporate investors and controllers of HBO and WarnerMedia assets.
Will HBO Now Continue?
For now, yes! HBO Now is shrinking, and now without extra content, HBO Max will surely take over. Whether WarnerMedia will merge both and kill HBO Now forever is a decision they have yet to make.
What to Watch?
If you have HBO Now subscription, HBO Max will be available for launch directly. For the future, HBO Max will be the leader of WarnerMedia content and frontrunner in the streaming wars.
My pick – Get HBO Max and lose the HBO cable channel and HBO Go to get the best and freshest of the content from the media house.
Whether HBO will merge its streaming services or not, only time will tell; however, for now, HBO Max is the best deal you’ll get if you’re interested in its content. HBO Max is comparatively expensive in comparison to its competitors. Still, given the fact that everyone is cutting cords and are moving to streaming services, people won’t mind paying for it separately, compensating the expenses with the money saved from ditching cord0-based cable service providers.