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HBO Max: Everything you need to know about the premium service

Hbo Max Homescreen
HBO Max brings the best of HBO, plus new exclusive series and movies.

One of the bigger media launches in 2020 has got to be HBO Max. On one hand it's HBO. But on the other hand, it's so much more.

HBO Max takes some of the biggest brands under the WarnerMedia umbrella and unite their content in one package, available pretty much everywhere you can find HBO. (Which is, to say, everywhere.) The new service — which includes the legacy HBO content in addition to all kinds of shows from across the larger WarnerMedia world — went live on May 27, 2020. It's be available pretty much everywhere the existing HBO service is available, and cost exactly the same.

One major caveat remains, though: As it stands today, you still can't watch HBO Max directly on Roku. That's nobody's fault but the two companies involved — as usually it comes down to money. And HBO has said that it has apps ready to go just as soon as an agreement is reached.

Here's everything you need to know about the new HBO Max.

What's the latest on HBO Max?

Dec. 15, 2020: HBO Max is now on Comcast Xfinity

If you've got Comcast Xfinity X1 or Xfinity Flex, and an HBO Max account, you can now access the service right from within the Xfinity interface. That's super helpful.

Dec. 3, 2020: Warner Bros. picks the nuclear option

Every Warner Bros. film released in 2021 will be made available on HBO Max at the same time as it's in theaters. Studios are not pleased.

Nov. 16, 2020: Behold, Amazon Fire TV!

HBO Max is now available on Amazon Fire TV, which is the second-largest streaming hardware platform in the United States.

It remains unavailable on Roku, which is No. 1.

Raised by Wolves will get a second season on HBO Max

Raised by Wolves tells the story of humanity seeking a new home after the war between atheists and religious zealots wrecked Earth. And it's going to get a second season on HBO Max.

What's the difference between HBO and HBO Max?

It's kind of a weird time for HBO. On one hand, there's the legacy HBO, same as it ever ways. Incredible original content paired alongside the best of Hollywood. And now there's HBO Max. Both will exist side by side. But make no mistake, WarnerMedia (the parent company of HBO) wants you on HBO Max.

What's better about HBO Max? It has everything that's on HBO, plus movies and shows from many of WarnerMedia's other brands, such as TBS, TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, selected shows from Turner Classic Movies, and more.

How much does HBO Max cost?

Both HBO and HBO Max cost $14.99 a month. So there's really no reason to remain on the legacy HBO.

And that price is good whether you pay HBO directly, or through a third party such as Apple TV Channels or Amazon Prime Video Channels or YouTube TV or whomever.

Can I get HBO Max for free?

Some folks will, yes. And we're not just talking about a free "upgrade" for those who are currently paying for the legacy HBO. Some people will get HBO Max without paying an additional dime.

So how can you get HBO Max for free? We've got a full breakdown here , but the short version is if you're paying AT&T money for wireless service, for home internet, or one of its other video services, there's a good chance you can get. HBO Max for no extra charge. And some cable system like Charter also are giving customers HBO Max for free.

What all is on HBO Max?

Like we said, HBO Max is HBO, and then some. It'll have new movies every month, of course, as well as all the HBO originals you've come to know and love, like Westworld , Last Week Tonight and Insecure . But there are new HBO Max originals on the way as well.

At launch on May 27, you'll be able to watch these new shows:

  • Craftopia
  • Legendary
  • Love Life
  • Looney Tunes Cartoons
  • The Not Too Late Show With Elmo
  • On The Record

And more originals are on the way throughout 2020, including:

  • The Flight Attendant , staring (and executive-produced) by Kaley Cuoco
  • The Friends unscripted cast reunion
  • A new season of Search Party
  • Expecting Amy , which follows comedian Amy Schumer during her pregnancy
  • Sci-Fi series Raised by Wolves , from director Ridley Scott
  • Comedy series Close Enough
  • And the long-awaited Adventure Time: Distant Lands — BMO , the first of four Adventure Time specials.

And then there are all the shows that you'll find from all the other WarnerMedia networks coming to HBO Max.

How can I watch HBO Max?

If you can watch HBO Now, you can watch HBO Max. That's true for your phone and tablet, streaming devices like Roku, Apple TV, Android TV and more. That's true for your web browser. Basically you can watch HBO Max on any modern device. And if you're a current HBO Now subscriber, you'll automatically have access to. HBO Max.

Here's the full list of supported devices:

  • iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch with iOS 12.2 or newer
  • Android phones and tablets with Android 5 or newer
  • PC running Windows 7 or newer
  • Mac with macOS 10.10 (Yosemite) or newer
  • Google Chromebooks
  • A web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari)
  • Android TV
  • Apple TV (4th generation or newer)
  • PlayStation 4
  • Select Samsung Smart TVs
  • Xbox One
  • Chromecast
  • AirPlay

What bitrate does HBO Max stream at?

One of the big questions folks had about HBO Max was whether streaming quality was going to be better than what we've experienced on HBO Now. The short version was that you could get a better picture quality watching through Amazon Prime Video than you could through HBO's own standalone apps.

We're happy to report that, as promised, bitrate is about twice as good on the standalone HBO Max app than it was on HBO Now. We've been seeing an average bitrate of 10 Mbps or more.

That still doesn't change the fact that HBO Max isn't yet available in 4K (nor will it do much to make older content look better), but it's definitely an improvement over the previous incarnation.