Today’s the day. HBO Max is dead. Long live its much bluer, much larger streaming-service son, Max, now out in the world. There’s not much more to say about this transition that we haven’t already said. It’s been a year of watching Warner Bros. Discovery endure change, pain, and content removal from HBO Max, as well as funnier shenanigans by CEO David Zaslav. The HBO Max–to–Max changeover, though, is something that may directly affect you and your streaming habits, so we’ve put together this handy guide to answer a few questions, because we love you.
I hate change. Why is this happening?
Basically, Warner Bros. and Discovery tied the knot and decided they needed to overhaul their streaming strategy. That led to Max, the latest Pokémon evolution of HBO Max (earlier forms being HBO Go and HBO Now). Max will combine programming once found on Discovery+, like 90 Day Fiancé and Property Brothers, with the stuff that was on HBO Max, like Sex and the City and The Other Two. Change is hard, but at least you can maybe get a cute Studio Ghibli avatar with Max?
Seems messy. Do I have to do anything to switch my device over from HBO Max to Max?
Yes and no. Both the WBD executives and product teams involved with the rollout of Max have repeatedly said the transition for existing subscribers will be seamless: “On May 23, the HBO Max app will become Max,” the website states. They want to avoid a repeat of the user confusion that marked the transition from HBO Now to HBO Max roughly three years ago.
However, the transition will differ slightly by devices. On some devices, you will have to download a new Max app, whereas on others, the existing HBO Max app will update automatically to Max. Here’s the breakdown:
Automatically updating: Amazon, Cox, Roku, Vizio TV, Xfinity
Download prompted: Android, Apple, DIRECTV, LG TV, PlayStation, Samsung TV, Xbox*
This is why keen observers may have noticed that there was a new Max app strutting on the Apple Store weeks ago. WBD has encouraged new users to pre-download the app before HBO Max disappears.
What will the new Max app look like?
Max looks and feels pretty familiar to anyone who’s used HBO Max. It even utilizes the same font family, Max’s product people told us. Still, a lot’s changed — including several cosmetic tweaks and functionality improvements that make it easier to use. Part of the goal, said Warner Bros. Discovery product chief Tyler Whitworth, was creating a “familiar experience.” HBO is no longer in the app’s name, but it’s got an HBO logo pinned up top.
Will it be as buggy as the old HBO Max was?
That service was known for its glitches — most of which were fixed over time, to be fair. Max launched with its own share of Day 1 bugs and issues, which users immediately jumped on. Keep in mind: Rolling any app out for millions of subscribers is a challenge. Compared to the app-breaking horror stories of 2020 HBO Max, though, so far, the bugs have been minor.
Will Max still have all my profile stuff set up?
Yes, basically anything you’d log in to access — profiles, watch history, your saved watch queue, and settings — should carry over once you log in to Max.
Will I have to pay more for it?
If you want the nicer features, yes. The cost of the standard ad-free and ad-supported tiers are staying the same — about $16 and $10 a month, respectively. But a new premium tier has been added for folks who want features like 4K streaming and Dolby Atmos sound (which used to come standard in the HBO Max days). Here’s the full breakdown of the new pricing moving forward:
Max Ad Lite: $9.99/month or $99.99/year
• Two concurrent streams, 1080p resolution, no offline downloads, 5.1 surround-sound quality
Max Ad Free: $15.99/month or $149.99/year
• Two concurrent streams, 1080p resolution, 30 offline downloads, 5.1 surround-sound quality
Max Ultimate Ad Free: $19.99/month or $199.99/year
• Four concurrent streams, up to 4K UHD resolution, 100 offline downloads, Dolby Atmos sound quality
Your existing HBO Max plan, assuming you’re a current customer, will stay in effect for at least six months, at which point you’ll be given the option to switch to one of the three plans, above.
What will be on it?
Content-wise, there are still collections for HBO shows and films, the DC superhero characters, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Max Originals, the Studio Ghibli films, and others. Additionally, content you might recognize from Discovery+ is available on the platform, with categories and collections devoted to true-crime, reality-TV, food, and comedy programming from the likes of HGTV, Food Network, Discovery Channel, TLC, and ID.
Over the next month it’ll become the streaming home of new Max Originals premieres like And Just Like That … and Clone High as well as HBO series such as The Idol, broader linear programming like Chopped and Build It Forward, and film premieres such as Avatar: The Way of Water. Max is also emphasizing its kids’ offerings as a way to hammer home that it’s a broadly appealing service; every newly signed-up account will include a child’s profile as a default option. (One of its competitors, after all, is Disney, which has a similarly priced streaming bundle and recently pulled some Zas-like streaming moves of its own.) In general, think of Max as a more stuffed HBO Max. Hopefully, you’re actually interested in the stuff on it.
This post has been updated throughout.