HBO Max subscribers knew it was coming, but one of the world’s best streaming services has now officially merged with Discovery Plus to make a new super-streamer called Max.
The new service, which starts from Tuesday May 23, 2023, is the result of a merger between AT&T’s WarnerMedia and Discovery in 2022, which created the new entertainment giant Warner Bros. Discovery. And it’s this company that has decided to launch a new Max streaming service, by combining HBO Max and Discovery Plus.
As the rumors had predicted, the new Max service isn’t a full merging of both of those existing streaming services. Instead, Discovery Plus will continue as a separate service, with the new Max replacing the old HBO Max and adding “a selection of Discovery favorites”.
But what does this all mean for previous subscribers of HBO Max and Discovery Plus? What is the new Max price? And what new TV shows are en route for the new Max service? We’ve rounded up everything you need to know, including the most exciting shows that are in the pipeline.
7 things you need to know about the new Max streaming service
1. HBO Max turns into Max on May 23
The new Max streaming service from Warner Bros. Discovery launches in the US on Tuesday May 23, 2023 – and if you’re an existing HBO Max subscriber, you won’t need to do anything to continue watching your favorite shows.
HBO Max has now officially become Max. But what does that mean if you’re an existing subscriber? It depends where you usually use the streaming service.
If you’re on Roku, Amazon, Cox, Vizio TV or Xfinity, you can simply find the Max app using the search function and open it. You apparently shouldn’t need to sign in on devices where HBO Max was already installed.
For those who previously used HBO Max on Android, Apple, DirecTV, LG TV, PlayStation, Samsung TV or Xbox, you should instead open the existing HBO Max app and choose ‘Download’.
The official Max help page says “we anticipate that Max will be available on the same devices as HBO Max”, but you can find a full list of supported devices on that help page.
2. Max will cost more than HBO Max for 4K streaming
If you already subscribe to HBO Max, there won’t be any changes to your subscription price with Max – but the new service will make 4K streaming exclusive to a new higher tier, which is something of a downgrade.
Previously, there were two HBO Max plans. The cheapest ‘With Ads’ plan cost $9.99 a month (or $99.99 annually), while the ‘Ad-Free’ plan cost $15.99 a month (or $149.99 annually). As you can see below, the new Max service offers near-identical plans called ‘Ad-Lite’ and ‘Ad Free’, with a couple of changes.
First, rather than being able to stream on three devices simultaneously, this will drop to two devices on those first two plans below. Also, in worse news for those who are already on HBO Max’s ‘Ad-Free’ plan, 4K streaming will instead only be available in a new ‘Max Ultimate Ad Free’ plan ($19.99/month or $199.99/year).
|Tier||Max Ad-Lite||Max Ad Free||Max Ultimate Ad Free|
|Price||$9.99/month or $99.99/year||$15.99/month or $149.99/year||$19.99/month or $199.99/year|
|Resolution||1080p resolution||1080p resolution||4K UHD resolution|
|Streams||Two concurrent streams||Two concurrent streams||Four concurrent streams|
|Sound||5.1 surround sound quality||5.1 surround sound quality||Dolby Atmos sound quality|
|Offline||No offline downloads||30 offline downloads||100 offline downloads|
That ‘Max Ultimate Ad Free’ plan is definitely the one for those who want 4K with HDR and Dolby Atmos then. But it isn’t yet clear exactly which shows will be available to stream in that quality beyond Game of Thrones, The Last of Us, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and The Dark Knight Trilogy.
HBO Max doesn’t stream all of its shows in 4K resolution, with older ones tending to be limited to HD. But the newly merged company has promised that “all Warner Bros. movies released this year and going forward will also be available in 4K UHD when they arrive on Max”.
HBO Max has also promised that existing subscribers “will still have access to their current plan features for a minimum of six months following launch”, suggesting that further pricing changes are possible later this year.
3. Discovery Plus will continue as a stand-alone service
Warner Bros. Discovery haven’t fully merged HBO Max and Discovery Plus into a single super-streamer. Instead, the new Max streaming service mashes all of HBO Max together with “a selection of Discovery favorites”.
This means that Discovery Plus will continue to be a standalone streaming option with the same pricing as usual ($4.99 per month with ads, or $6.99 per month without). So if you’ve previously subscribed to both HBO Max and Discovery Plus, you will unfortunately need to continue paying for both to see all content.
If you were an HBO Max subscriber, though, your profiles, watch history, and HBO Max settings will automatically move over to Max. The only thing you’ll need to do is re-download your TV shows and movies on Max.
4. The new Max app will bring some big changes
The new Max app, which launched on May 23, should deliver some improvements over the current HBO Max offering, according to Warner Bros. Discovery.
The streaming giant promised a better video playback experience on the service, plus an improved recommendations engine and greater personalization that goes beyond the homepage.
Those recommendations are apparently powered by some more powerful machine learning, while extra page furniture – including shortcuts, dedicated hubs and streamlined categories – could deliver a boost on the old HBO Max app experience.
While that all sounds good in theory, we’ll need to have more of a play with the app to see if it’s a genuine improvement. One bonus that does sound useful for parents, though, is the new default kids profile for new subscribers, with some parental controls. That should help prevent toddlers from accidentally tuning into the The Last of Us, at least.
5. New shows will include a decade-long Harry Potter series
To help build some excitement about its new Max streaming service, Warner Bros. Discovery announced a slew of new TV shows that are coming to the service – with the most notable arguably being a new Harry Potter series.
We’ve already rounded up the 7 new movies and TV shows that are arriving on Max launch day, but the Harry Potter series is arguably the biggest one that’s coming down the Max pipeline.
This will apparently be a “decade-long series”, with each of the stories from Rowling’s Harry Potter books being expanded upon with a new cast. While some might see the series as completely unnecessary, let’s hope it’s better than the slightly exasperating and unsatisfying Hogwarts Legacy.
6. Max will finally get a fourth season of True Detective
A year ago we heard that a fourth season of True Detective, starring Jodie Foster, was en route. But now we’ve finally got our first look at the new series, which will land on Max, thanks to a new teaser.
True Detective: Night Country will be something of a reboot for the series, taking place in an icy Alaska. Foster plays Detectives Liz Danvers, who has been asked to solve the case of the disappearance of six men who operate a nearby research station.
The original creator of the show Nic Pizzolatto, which started back in 2014, has stepped back to an executive producer role, with the Mexican filmmaker Issa López writing and directing all episodes. With a star-studded executive team, could it finally live up to the classic original season?
7. Other originals will include The Penguin (in 2024)
Aside from the new Harry Potter TV series, the new Max service will deliver another Game of Thrones spin-off called A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight, plus a new comedy series from The Big Bang Theory. But perhaps the most intriguing is a new The Penguin series, which is slated to arrive in 2024.
This will build on Colin Farrell’s interpretation of the supervillain from The Batman and is now in production, as you can see from the teaser above. Naturally, it looks dark, gritty and most likely worth the long wait.
And if that’s not enough, the new Max streaming service is also promising an original espionage thriller series called The Sympathizer, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, plus a new series based on The Conjuring films.