Here's what you need to know about the subscription video service that will be home to Wonder Woman 1984, Dune, a Friends reunion, GOT prequel series 'House of the Dragon,' and more.

By Rachel Yang
Updated December 17, 2020 at 08:36 AM EST
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Since HBO Max was announced in 2019, we've heard lots of hype about the Friends cast reunion, its "10,000 hours of content," and other exciting promises. The streaming service, which launched in May, still might be a mystery to viewers who are wary of paying for yet another platform.

Below, EW breaks down what HBO Max is exactly, what shows and movies it offers, and how it stacks up against Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV+, and more.

HBO MAX
Credit: Warner Bros Pictures; Clay Enos/Warner Bros Pictures; Warner Bros Pictures

What is HBO Max?

HBO Max has been touted as "where HBO meets so much more" (vague, we know). The service features HBO's existing programming along with content from networks (like Cinemax, TBS, and TNT) and third-party content owned by HBO's parent company, WarnerMedia.

What shows and movies are on the service?

You can catch all of HBO's current shows, like Euphoria,Succession, and Insecure; classic HBO series like The Sopranos, The Wire, and Sex and the City; plus Casablanca, the Lord of the Rings movies, the Matrix trilogy, and other Warner Bros. movies.

New HBO fare will also be available on the streamer, including detective series Mare of Easttown starring Kate Winslet; Victorian drama series The Nevers; and a two-part documentary Tiger about Tiger Woods. HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon, will debut in 2022.

HBO Max also acquired a number of programs from outside networks like NBC, Comedy Central, and BBC, so you can watch all seasons of Friends, The West Wing, South Park, Doctor Whoand more. Other likely top draws for audiences include Seinfeld, The Big Bang Theory, Rick and Morty, and the Studio Ghibli collection.

What original programs does HBO Max offer? 

The service boasted a slate of original series at launch, such as Love Life with Anna Kendrick; Sesame Street Workshop's The Not Too Late Show With Elmo; ballroom competition show Legendary; documentary On the Record; Craftopia with YouTube sensation LaurDIY; a Nicki Minaj docuseries; and fresh Looney Tunes Cartoons.

Ridley Scott's Raised by Wolves premiered in September to solid reviews, as did Kaley Cuoco's drama series The Flight Attendant, which debuted in late November. Steven Soderbergh's star-studded film Let Them All Talk featuring Meryl Streep and Candice Bergen, out Dec. 10, has also scored critical praise. Soderbergh crime thriller No Sudden Move, starring Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Jon Hamm and Ray Liotta, will also be hitting the platform.

Other HBO Max original series include DC's Doom Patrol, Search Party, the three-part Amy Schumer documentary Expecting Amy, adult animated comedy from Regular Show's J.G. Quintel titled Close Enough, and new Adventure Time episodes through Distant Lands.

The recent Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion was a hit, and the Friends reunion set to film in March 2021 will surely appeal to fans on the fence about HBO Max. The special, which has been teased for a while, didn't make it in time for the streamer's launch due to the pandemic. Similarly, because of COVID-19, the hyped Gossip Girl reboot won't arrive at the service until 2021. Also coming next year is Zack Snyder's fabled cut of Justice League.

Check out HBO Max's promo spot teasing upcoming content here:

What content has been announced to hit the streamer since it debuted? 

In December, Warner Bros. also announced it will be releasing Wonder Woman 1984, Dune, The Suicide Squad, and every one of its films slated for 2021 simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. Godzilla vs. Kong, In The Heights, Space Jam: A New Legacy, and Matrix 4 are also among the lineup of 17 films. Good news for HBO Max subscribers, bad news for movie theaters.

Other news since the platform arrived in May: Chappelle's Show became available to stream on HBO Max beginning Nov. 1, and Conan O'Brien will end Conan in January 2021 and jump to the platform for his own weekly variety series.

How much does it cost? 

HBO Max costs $14.99 per month. For comparison, Netflix's rate ranges from $8.99 to $17.99, Hulu is $5.99 (with ads) and $11.99 (no ads), Disney+ is $6.99, and Apple TV+ costs $4.99 per month.

Additionally, if you're subscribed to HBO through providers like AT&T, Xfinity, Cox, and many more, you get access to HBO Max for free. This also applies to people subscribed to the HBO app (previously called the HBO Now app) through Google Play, Samsung TV, Apple, etc.

What devices can you watch HBO Max on?

You can find HBO Max on most major streaming devices including Amazon Fire devices, Android devices, iPhones, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox One, and Samsung TV. And on Dec. 17, seven months after it first launched, HBO Max finally became available on Roku, the last major platform that didn't distribute the streamer. The deal probably had a tiny bit to do with ensuring Wonder Woman 1984 will be in good shape upon its Christmas Day arrival on HBO Max and theaters.

What happened to HBO Now and HBO Go?

The two services initially existed alongside HBO Max, but were gradually rebranded or phased out. HBO Now was rebranded as the HBO app and existing subscribers can still access HBO. Most can also watch HBO Max with their account at no extra cost, as mentioned above. If you're deciding between the two, just buying HBO is an option, but there's virtually no reason to as HBO Max is the same price and has HBO's entire library plus more content.

HBO Go, which came with an HBO package through a TV provider, was discontinued July 31 and the app is no longer available on most devices. More info on the two services can be found here.

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