By: Nick Gambino
A new month, a new streaming subscription. The evolution of streaming services can be likened to the evolution of TV. We started with three or four channels and watched as it slowly grew to an untenable number that causes despair and apathy just thinking about it. And so it goes with streamers.
HBO Max launched this week with an offering that places it as a main contender with the big shots. While some services have struggled (Apple TV+ for example) due to lack of content, HBO has spent the past year or so scooping up licenses to some of the biggest shows while also producing a number of originals.
While signing up for HBO Max will give you exclusive access to arguably the biggest “get” of the new streamer, Friends, you’ll be able to watch other iconic shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Rick and Morty and Doctor Who. And because this of course is HBO, you’ll be able to watch all current and past HBO series like The Sopranos, The Wire and Veep.
I’m a movie guy all the way, so I’m really impressed with the movie selection available on HBO’s new supersized platform. Not only do they include a large selection from the Warner Media catalog which includes DC films, they also have “Classics curated by Turner Classic Movies” that includes a wealth of titles from throughout the history of film.
Glancing through the app, I see Kurosawa and Fellini films and nearly every Chaplin film you can think of. There’s plenty there to discover newly and even ones you already know or have at least heard of – Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, Singin’ in the Rain, etc. Many of these movies have rarely showed up on other streamers. I know because I’ve searched for them and come up short nearly every time.
HBO Max also includes a cool curated section that highlights the important moments in a show. For example, navigating to “Series” I see a series of episodes labeled “Rachel & Ross” that includes all of the highlights of the famous TV romance. You can watch them all in order starting from Season 1, Episode 24 The One Where Rachel Finds Out.
While you can find the HBO Max app on plenty of devices, there are some that don’t yet carry it, namely Roku and Fire TV devices and some smart TVs. And because I’m assuming the app is new, I was unable to use the app with Google Chromecast, though it’s supposed to support it.
If you want to watch all of this great content, it’ll cost you $14.99 a month after a free 7-day trial. This is more than most of us pay for Netflix or Hulu, but in my opinion it’s worth it, especially if you already have HBO. This is HBO on steroids and so replaces the need for HBO GO or HBO NOW. In fact, I was automatically signed up for HBO Max as part of my AT&T TV subscription.
So, is HBO Max worth your money? In the opinion of this writer, yes. It all depends on how much you value HBO originals, classic shows and classic movies. To me, that’s worth $14.99 a month or a free sign-up as part of my existing HBO subscription.