WarnerMedia unveils streaming brand HBO Max, delays launch until 2020

WarnerMedia's HBO Max is set to launch in early 2020

WarnerMedia's streaming service now officially has a name: HBO Max.

The subscription streaming service was originally set to launch in the fall of 2019, but AT&T announced today (9 July) it will hit the market in spring of 2020.

The AT&T-owned media company talked up its then-unnamed service during its upfront presentation in May. It's now leaning on the brand value of HBO as the company looks to broaden its offer of direct-to-consumer products.

WarnerMedia also announced plans to launch an ad-supported version of its streaming service at its upfront. A spokesperson confirmed that an ad-supported component is still set for phase two of HBO Max.

HBO Max will have to compete with streaming services that have long dominated the marketplace, such as Netflix and Amazon, as well as newer entries such as the Walt Disney Company, NBC Universal and Apple.

According to The Wall Street Journal, HBO Max will likely cost more than $14.99, the current monthly cost of HBO. Amazon and Disney are offering $12.99 and $6.99 pricetags, respectively.

HBO Max will include content from WarnerMedia's collection of networks, exclusive rights to Warner Bros properties such as Friends, and more than a dozen new orginals from stars like Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.

“HBO Max will bring together the diverse riches of WarnerMedia to create programming and user experiences not seen before in a streaming platform,” said Robert Greenblatt, chairman of WarnerMedia's entertainment and direct-to-consumer divisions.

“HBO’s world-class programming leads the way, the quality of which will be the guiding principle for our new array of Max Originals, our exciting acquisitions, and the very best of the Warner Bros. libraries, starting with the phenomenon that is Friends."

This new development raises more questions about the future of the streaming services industry.

NBCU recently announced its plans to pull The Office off Netflix, and HBO Max is planning to do the same with other highly popular shows such as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Pretty Little Liars at launch.

As the OTT landscape grows, traditional broadcasters will continue to scramble for their slice of market share.

“Eventually, though, all of this growth will come to a head,” SpotX chief revenue officer Sean Buckley said in April, before networks NBCU and WarnerMedia officially made a play for Netflix's consumer base. “The crowded playing field will spark tension over inventory rights.”

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