In a press briefing today, HBO announced some key details for its new streaming service, HBO Max, including its price and release date.
The service, which is set to launch for $14.99 (around £11, AU$22) per month in May 2020, will include ‘twice the amount of content on HBO currently’ from key partners like Cartoon Network, CNN, TNT, Crunchyroll, Sesame Workshop and more, in addition to the slate of HBO originals you currently know and enjoy.
According to HBO, you’ll be able to access the app on mobile devices through the respective app stores, as well as through streaming devices and smart TVs - though HBO has yet to name specific partners.
Specific examples of content announced today were several new Sesame Street spin-offs including a late night talk show starring Elmo, 40 years of DC movies including all the Batman and Superman films, comedy staples Friends and The Big Bang Theory, 300 episodes of South Park, a curated collection of anime from Crunchyroll, Rick & Morty, Doctor Who from the BBC, and new projects from JJ Abrams and Reese Witherspoon.
The jewel of the collection, however, will almost undoubtedly be House of the Dragon, the rumored Game of Thrones spin-off show that will follow House Targaryen 300 years before the events of A Song of Ice and Fire.
HBO Max will prevent your kids from watching Thrones
One of HBO's key selling points for the service is that it's family-oriented. The service is set to not only include the last 50 years of Sesame Street , but it also plans on including four Adventure Time specials and a heap of other age-appropriate content from Cartoon Network.
Obviously, that clashes with the company's image of being the bad boy of premium television, but HBO seems to be taking great lengths to prevent your kids from seeing something they're not supposed to by utilizing multiple user accounts with the option for parents to set age-rating parameters.
Perhaps what's most unique about the service is that, when it's time to watch content together, HBO Max will allow to select multiple accounts (say, yours and your child's) and it will recommend content that's age appropriate for everyone in the audience. Even better, anything you watch together won't change the recommendations you see on your home screen when you go back to watching shows and movies on your own.
HBO has an uphill battle against Netflix and Disney
Refreshingly, HBO acknowledged the competition throughout the presentation. No one on stage pretended that Netflix didn't exist, or that Disney Plus wasn't a 1,000-pound gorilla waiting to be unleashed on the world.
But what HBO says will differentiate it from the pack is its slate of extensive partnerships, library of popular shows from the last four decades and provider partnerships like the one it has with AT&T. That last bit is important because it's what's going to allow HBO Max to grow rapidly at the start.
According to AT&T, it will offer HBO Max packages to its cable, mobile phone and broadband internet customers at no additional cost (what we interpret as you can tack it onto your monthly bill for the regular rate without any extra fees) while current HBO cable package subscribers will get the service for free.
HBO hopes these incentives will help the service reach 50 million subscribers by 2025, putting it within 10 million subscribers of where Netflix is today.
That may sound a bit ambitious considering today was the day Sony announced the demise of its PlayStation Vue service, but hey, if the Game of Thrones spin-off can attract anywhere near the same amount of viewers that the main series brought on in its 10-year run, anything is possible.