Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) has announced a major shake-up to its HBO Max streaming service which includes a new name and a more expensive subscription model if you want 4K. All was revealed last night during a press event after months of speculation and rumours that the US-based streaming service would see a major overhaul this year.
The big news is that the service is dropping the HBO name and will now just be called Max, with original programming made for the platform labelled "Max Originals". Warner Bros is also merging its HBO Max and Discovery+ streaming services into one streamlined package with this overhaul.
The switch should take place on the 23rd of May when the HBO Max app should automatically update, so don't fret if you can't find the app at first or if it looks a bit different. Your existing subscription will carry over onto the new Max platform as well, although WBD has revamped the subscription model, see below:
- Max Ad-Lite ($9.99/month or $99.99/year): ad-supported streaming, 1080p, two concurrent streams, no offline downloading and 5.1 surround sound.
- Max Ad Free ($15.99/month or $149.99/year): no ads, 1080p, two concurrent streams, 30 offline downloads and 5.1 surround sound.
- Max Ad Free Ultimate ($19.99/month or $199.99/year): no ads, up to 4K HDR streaming, four concurrent streams, 100 offline downloads and Dolby Atmos sound
The frustrating aspect here is that 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos were included in the $15.99/month plan before this overhaul and will now cost extra under this new subscription model. It's also worth noting that the ad-supported tier was recently increased from $6.99/month to $9.99/month - there's no getting around it, Max is more expensive than ever before.
However, Warner Bros Discovery did reveal some exclusive new content coming to the service that sweetens the deal, including new spin-off programmes in the Game Of Thrones, The Batman and The Big Bang Theory franchises, as well as a retelling of the Harry Potter books via a TV series that will supposedly take place over the next ten years.
There was still no word on whether Max will be coming to the UK any time soon, although this isn't surprising as HBO's partnership with Sky is still valid until at least 2025. This gives Sky exclusive broadcast and streaming rights to HBO content in the UK (bar a few exceptions), meaning you'll either need a Sky contract or a Now subscription if you want to watch HBO content in the UK or if you're willing to put the time and money into it, you can also opt for a VPN.
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