Here’s Who Gets HBO Max for Free, and Who Has to Pay for It

     October 30, 2019

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As the streaming wars look to heat up by the end of this year and in 2020, consumers will be left with choices to make. Do I cancel my cable package? Do I choose Disney+ over Netflix? Do I buy them all? Unless you’re one of the millionaires asking that third question, you might have to cut back a little.

Yesterday’s WarnerMedia Day not only introduced the world to Mr. Stankey (WarnerMedia CEO), it also provided a stage to roll out an array of content—10,000 hours worth—on HBO Max. There you’ll be able to indulge in the new Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon, and bathe in the nostalgia of Friends. It will also carry a massive library of movies, as well a host of other new titles.

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Image via Warner Bros. Television Distribution

The service will cost $14.99 per month when it launches in May 2020. So, if you’re already an HBO subscriber, or if you pay for HBO Now, can you get HBO Max for free?

Here’s what HBO plans to do for its existing customers:

If you’re an AT&T customer subscribing to HBO through U-Verse or AT&T TV, or DirecTV, you get HBO Max free for a year. If you’re a premium AT&T mobile and broadband services subscriber, you can get HBO Max bundles for free.

For HBO Now subscribers, you get a free upgrade to HBO Max… if you’re billed directly through HBO. As in, if you subscribe through Apple, Amazon Prime, or Roku, it ain’t free for you.

Beyond that, if you get HBO as a subscriber to a cable TV provider (Charter Spectrum, Optimum, Comcast, Dish Network, etc), you still have to pay the $14.99 per month. However, Mr. Stankey told viewers during the live stream that AT&T is looking to strike deals with those providers. Though that might not happen before May. Ultimately, he’d like to see 50 million HBO Max subscribers by 2025 in the U.S. Currently, HBO’s U.S. subscriber base is only 34 million (130 million worldwide). It’s a lofty goal, but with the amount of material available to the broadest of audiences, it’s not implausible.

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