the streaming wars

HBO Max to Be the Only Thing Not Canceled for Memorial Day

You and your pals on May 27. Photo: Warner Bros.

If you’ve been anxiously awaiting the return of Friends to subscription streaming, good news: HBO Max finally has a launch date. The new WarnerMedia digital offering — a.k.a. the new digital home of the Central Perk gang now that the show has disappeared from Netflix — will debut Wednesday, May 27. The company had scheduled a May premiere months ago but until today had not yet specified a date.

Beyond Friends and other library titles such as The Big Bang Theory, The Boondocks, and old episodes of The Bachelor, HBO Max’s launch-day originals will include the new Anna Kendrick series Love Life and the premiere of On the Record, the 2020 Sundance documentary about music exec Drew Dixon and her accusations of sexual misconduct against Russell Simmons. For kids, the new service’s first-run series on day one include Sesame Workshop’s The Not Too Late Show With Elmo, a crafting show called Craftopia and new Looney Tunes cartoons. The underground-ballroom series Legendary will also begin streaming at launch. HBO Max series are expected to roll out with new episodes weekly rather than use the Netflix binge model. “Our number one goal is having extraordinary content for everyone in the family, and the HBO Max programming mix … will bear that out,” said Robert Greenblatt, chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer.

HBO Max will also feature the full library of current and past HBO programs, along with 2,000 feature films from the Warner vaults and 700 from HBO’s catalogue (though not all of those films will be available on day one; Max says they’ll unspool over the first year). Also, some previously announced classic series set to stream on Max won’t debut on May 27, either: South Park, Gossip Girl, and The West Wing are scheduled to debut “within the first year of launch.” The new service will cost $14.99 per month, though it is expected to be free to most subscribers of AT&T phone and TV services, including DirecTV. Last week, Charter Communication and AT&T announced an agreement that will allow any current HBO subscribers the ability to upgrade to HBO Max at no additional charge. It’s expected that deals with other cable companies will be announced before launch.

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HBO Max to Be the Only Thing Not Canceled for Memorial Day