Back in simpler times, there were only two HBO streaming apps — Go for cable subscribers, and Now for viewers who wanted a standalone streaming subscription. Then the company launched launched HBO Max last month.
Content-wise, Max encompasses the HBO library plus a bunch of additional movies and shows. Meanwhile, from an app perspective, it was released as an update to HBO Now … except on Fire TV and Roku, where WarnerMedia has yet to reach a deal to offer Max, so the app is still HBO Now.
Just typing that out made me feel tired. And after all that, here’s what WarnerMedia announced today:
Now that HBO Max has launched and is widely distributed, we can implement some significant changes to our app offering in the U.S. As part of that plan, we will be sunsetting our HBO GO service in the U.S. We intend to remove the HBO GO app from primary platforms as of July 31, 2020. Most customers who have traditionally used HBO GO to stream HBO programming are now able to do so via HBO Max, which offers access to all of HBO together with so much more. Additionally, the HBO NOW app and desktop experience will be rebranded to HBO. Existing HBO NOW subscribers will have access to HBO through the rebranded HBO app on platforms where it remains available and through play.hbo.com. HBO Max provides not only the robust offering of HBO but also a vast WarnerMedia library and acquired content and originals through a modern product.
While the changes are tedious to explain, it sounds like they will actually result in a (somewhat) simpler set of consumer choices. Basically:
- The HBO Max app is going to be the primary HBO app going forward.
- If you subscribe to HBO through one of the supported cable providers (including AT&T, Comcast, Cox, DirecTV, Hulu, Optimum, Spectrum, Verizon Fios or YouTube TV), you should be able to use the HBO Max app at no additional cost.
- If you’re trying to watch HBO on a device that doesn’t yet support HBO Max — namely, Fire TV or Roku — then you’re going to be using an app that doesn’t have all the extra content. That app has the no-frills name HBO.