HBO Max: What It Is and How to Watch It

Everything you need to know about the biggest HBO streaming platform

HBO Max is an on-demand, subscription-based media streaming service from Warner Media Entertainment that features a selection of titles pulled from Warner's massive library of movies and TV shows, in addition to content from other Warner Media brands like HBO. The service also features exclusive content, like Adventure Time: Distant Lands, Green Lantern, and the Gossip Girl reboot.

HBO Max displayed on a television.
Classen Rafael / EyeEm / Getty 

What is HBO Max?

HBO Max is a streaming service that provides access to a huge library of TV shows and movies from Warner Media Entertainment, their subsidiaries, and their partners. That means it has movies and TV shows produced by Warner Bros., all of the same content you can find on HBO Go and HBO Now, and content from the likes of Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, TBS, TNT, and more.

In practice, HBO Max is a lot like Netflix, Disney+, and Peacock. It's a streaming service that allows you to watch movies and TV shows on-demand wherever you want.

If you're at home, you can stream through their website on your computer, or use a streaming device to watch on your television. And if you don't want to be tied down, you can stream to your phone or tablet using the HBO Max app. All you need is a subscription to HBO Max and access to high speed internet.

You don't need a cable subscription, or a subscription to the HBO channel, to access this service.

What's the Difference Between HBO Now, HBO Go, and HBO Max?

HBO already had two streaming services before announcing HBO Max, so it's only natural that some people find comparing HBO Max to HBO Go, or for that matter to HBO Now, a little confusing.

HBO Go is a streaming service that's available to subscribers of the HBO cable channel, and HBO Now is a version of that service you can subscribe to even if you don't have cable.

HBO Max includes all of the same content you can find on the HBO Go and HBO Now services, with the addition of a massive library of content from other Warner Media properties.

How to Sign up for HBO Max

If you're interested in signing up for HBO Max, you can head over to their site and put your name on their mailing list. When the service goes live, you'll be the first to hear about it.

If you have an HBO Now subscription that's billed directly through HBO, don't sign up for HBO Max. You will automatically receive access to HBO Max on day one for no extra cost. Subscribers who pay through third parties, like Roku and Apple TV, will have to wait until the service launches for more details.

  1. Navigate to HBOMax.com.

  2. Select START YOUR FREE TRIAL.

    Signing up for HBO Max.

    If you subscribe to HBO through a supported provider, you will have access to HBO Max at no extra charge. Select click here to find out.

  3. To set up an account, fill in your name, email address, and create a password. Then click CREATE ACCOUNT.

    Signing up for HBO MAX.
  4. Next, add a payment method, then click START YOUR FREE TRIAL. You will now have free access to HBO Max for 7 days.

    Signing up for HBO Max.

What Content Can You Watch on HBO Max?

With an HBO Max subscription, you can stream the entire HBO library, including original series and movies, documentaries, comedy specials, and a rotating library of new and classic movies. If you're an HBO or HBO Now subscriber, you'll see all of the same content you're familiar with on HBO Max.

HBO Max shows.

In addition to shows like Game of Thrones and The Sopranos, HBO Max also includes a massive library of shows from various Warner Media properties and partners, including Rick and Morty, Friends, and The Big Bang Theory. They've also secured streaming rights to shows like South Park and the entire Studio Ghibli library.

While most of the content on HBO Max consists of shows that have aired elsewhere in the past, the service also produces original content that isn't available anywhere else. For example, if you want to see what happened after the conclusion of Cartoon Network's Adventure Time or the CW's long-running Gossip Girl, the the continuations to both of those series are only available through HBO Max.

In line with HBO's decision to bankroll Sesame Street in exchange for timed exclusivity, the service will also include a lot of content that's geared toward kids, like Looney Tunes: Back in Action and movies like My Neighbor Totoro.

How to Watch HBO Max

The main way to watch HBO Max is through the HBO Max website, which features a streaming media player that works in most web browsers. It also allows users to set up and switch between multiple profiles and includes other features that are more or less in line with other streaming services like Netflix and Disney+.

Watching HBO Max on Mobile Devices and Televisions

In addition to the website, you can also watch the service through the HBO Max app. Since HBO Go and HBO Now both have apps that are compatible with most iPhones and Android phones, in addition to a lot of other devices, the official HBO Max app will probably be available on Android, iOS, and most television streaming devices.

HBO Max pictured on a phone.
HBO/Warner

The HBO Max app will allow you to create profiles for multiple users, including protected child profiles, and receive custom recommendations for each user. Instead of relying only on algorithms, you'll actually be able to receive recommendations from people HBO Max refers to as "talent and influencers," including short videos explaining their recommendations.

Other features include separate watch lists and recommendations for each user, an interface that HBO Max describes as "swipey", and the ability to download shows and movies for offline viewing.