WarnerMedia reveals HBO Max as name of SVOD service

The streamer is set to launch in the U.S. in spring 2020, though WarnerMedia has not disclosed details about the potential of an international rollout.

WarnerMedia has unveiled HBO Max as the name of its forthcoming direct-to-consumer streaming platform, which is set to launch in the U.S. in spring 2020.

The digital service will be “anchored with and inspired by the legacy of HBO’s excellence and award-winning storytelling” with exclusive original programming dubbed Max Originals, while also highlighting WarnerMedia’s extensive portfolio of brands and libraries. The service will include content from HBO, Warner Bros., New Line, DC Entertainment, The CW, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Crunchyroll, Looney Tunes and others.

At launch, the platform is expected to encompass more than 10,000 hours of premium fiction and non-fiction content, though a comprehensive list of titles has yet to be revealed.

It remains unclear if, when, or on what timeline the service could roll out internationally and in Canada. More details about the streamer are expected to be announced at an event this fall. What is also unclear is the degree to which the launch of HBO Max in international territories could affect existing deals with local companies that license both content and brands from under the WarnerMedia umbrella.

HBO has an exclusive licensing deal with Bell Media in Canada, with the channel offered both as a direct-to-consumer offering (via the Crave SVOD) and as a traditional cable channel. A spokesperson for Bell Media told Playback Daily that Crave will continue to be the exclusive home of HBO content in Canada going forward.

However, while many questions remain, what the new service does represent is another powerhouse content company that is commissioning premium content in a bid to compete with the likes of Netflix, Amazon and incoming SVODs from Apple and Disney.

HBO Max is also taking back some big shows from Netflix, including the streaming rights to all 236 episodes of Friends (in the U.S.), as well as episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Pretty Little Liars. As well, some of the other big-name creatives involved in original HBO Max programming include Denis Villeneuve, Paul Feig, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman, Jordan Peele, J.J. Abrams, Nicole Kidman, Winona Ryder and Robert Downey Jr.

The direct-to-consumer team is led by Casey Bloys (president of programming at HBO), Kevin Reilly (chief content officer at HBO Max, overseeing all originals and library content), Tony Goncalves (oversees HBO Max development) and Andy Forssell (general manager of HBO Max).

With files from Jordan Pinto